NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATIONProfessional
Ethics Committee Opinion
Opinion #89 - 10/07/1968
Digest: Publication of legal articles in newspapers and magazines
Canons: Former Canons 40, 27
May an attorney write a series of unsolicited articles on legal
subjects in lay magazines and newspapers?
It is the opinion of the Committee that it would be proper for an
attorney to write such articles.
Canon 40 of the Canons of Professional Ethics expressly states that
"a lawyer may with propriety write articles for publication in which he
gives information upon the law." This Canon has been interpreted
by many bar associations, see ABA 92, ABA Informal 228, ABA 463,
538, 743; New York City Bar Association 270, 859; New York County
Lawyers 264, 396, 516. All of these opinions permit the
publication of articles provided they are of a general nature. The
writing may be done with or without compensation, ABA 92; New York City
Under no circumstances may the writer-lawyer answer even anonymously
inquiries for advice in newspapers or other publications. Canon
40, ABA 270, ABA Informal 538.
Neither should the writing be in any way self laudatory since this
would have the effect of being indirect advertising in violation of
Canon 27. (See Drinker on Ethics, p. 264). City Bar opinion 859
"When a lawyer himself writes a book, article or script, the material
should not contain statements which praise or emphasize the lawyer's
ability or skills, or statements which describe the lawyer in laudatory
terms or as having prominent clients or special success in any branch of
The writer-lawyer should also avoid any suggestion of puffing in the
biographical material accompanying the article. It should be
limited to a short statement that he is a member of the Bar of the State
who has written or lectured on legal subjects. (New York County
516). See also EC 2-5 & DR 2-104(A)(4).