NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATIONCommittee on
Opinion #311 - 11/16/1973
Topic: Directory Listing of Firm Name
Digest: A law firm name may not be included in a directory except
where permitted under the Code
Code: DR 2-101 (A); 2-101 (B); 2-103 EC 2-9; 2-10
May an attorney who is a member of an organization consisting of
lawyers and non-lawyers permit his law firm's name and address to be
listed in a directory of members of said organization?
DR 2-101(B) provides in part:
'A lawyer shall not publicize himself, his partner, or associate as
a lawyer through newspaper or magazine advertisements, radio or
television announcements, display advertisements in city or telephone
directories, or other means of commercial publicity, nor shall he
authorize or permit others to do so in his behalf except as permitted
under DR 2-103. This does not prohibit limited and dignified
identification of a lawyer as a lawyer as well as by name:
"(2) In public notices when the name and profession of a lawyer are
required or authorized by law or are reasonably pertinent for a purpose
other than the attraction of potential clients.
“(3) In routine reports and announcements of a bona fide
business, civic, professional, or political organization in which he
serves as a director or officer."
DR 2-102(A)(5) permits, with some limitations, the listing of a
lawyer or law firm in a telephone directory or city directory. The
purpose of such a listing is to assist the public in locating an already
selected attorney rather than to call the attention of the public to a
particular attorney by reason of his specialty, affiliations, or method
of advertising. EC 2-9, EC 2-10.
The use of a firm name in an organization directory was disapproved
in N.Y. State 235 (1972). The listing in the directory there under
consideration was prohibited under the rule that a listing is not
permitted except as authorized by the Code. DR 2-101(B), DR 2-103. The
public identification of the lawyer's profession violated the
traditional ban against advertising and the type of organization and
composition of its membership tended to create an impression of
expertise in a particular field of law. DR 2-105(A).
The types of organization with laudable purposes that might create
such impression are endless. Organizations formed by members of the
public for "Marital Equality", "Reformation of Bankruptcy Business
Practice", 'Automobile Accident Reforms', or "International Trade" are
but a few examples. The listing of a firm name as distinguished from an
individuals name in such organizations must be presumed to be for the
purpose of advertising.
Mere lack of identification of a law firm as such does not make such
listing acceptable. The listing of law firms by name, though not
identified as a law firm, in a list other than an approved law list or
telephone or city directory, would lead to the listing of firm names in
directories with lay persons and organizations for no other purpose
other than to present the name of the law firm to the members of a
particular group having similar interests or background.
Therefore, the listing of firm names as distinguished from an
individuals name in an organization directory composed of members of the
public which is not specifically permitted under the Code or has not
been authorized as a specific exception is improper. DR 2-101(B); see,
N.Y. State 18 (1965); N.Y. State 265 (1972); N.Y. County 479 (1959); ABA
Inf. 258 (1960).