NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATIONCommittee on
Opinion #540 03/29/1982 (7-82)
Topic: Advertising; Bar Association pamphlets
Overrules in part N.Y. State 46, 211
Digest: Proper for lawyer to use New York State Bar Association "Know
Your Rights Pamphlet Series" in direct mail and other advertising
Code: DR 2-101,2-103(A)
1. May a lawyer distribute
the New York State Bar Association "Know Your Rights Pamphlet Series" in
a general mailing to clients and non-clients?
2. May a lawyer
include mention of the availability of the "Know Your Rights Pamphlet
Series" in advertisements for the lawyer?
It is not improper for a lawyer to mail pamphlets in the "Know Your
Rights Series" prepared by the New York State Bar Association to clients
and non-clients or to mention the availability of these pamphlets in
advertisements for the lawyer.
DR 2-101 permits advertising and other publicity by lawyers provided
it is not false or deceptive and does not contain puffery,
self-laudation or claims regarding the quality of the lawyer's legal
services which cannot be measured or verified.
This Committee has held that it is permissible for an attorney to use
direct mail advertising. N.Y. State 507 (1979); N.Y. State 508 (1979).
Subsequent to the Committee's opinions in N.Y. State 507 and 508, the
Court of Appeals held in Matter of Koffler, 51 N.Y. 2d 140 (1980), cert.
denied, 101 S. Ct. 1733 (1981), that Section 479 of the Judiciary Law
and DR 2-103(A) could not constitutionally be interpreted to proscribe
direct mail advertising by an attorney.
Earlier decisions of this Committee, issued prior to the United
States Supreme Court decision in Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, 433 U.S.
350 (1977), permitted attorneys to send pamphlets prepared by the Bar
Association to clients and friends, and to distribute such pamphlets to
members of an adult education class and to persons visiting the
attorney’s office. N.Y. State 211 (1971); N.Y. State 46 (1967).
These opinions imposed limitations which prohibited the attorney from
making a wholesale distribution of the pamphlets by mail or attaching
his name or a business card in connection therewith. In light of
DR 2-101, Bates, supra, and Matter of Koffler, supra, these limitations
can no longer be applied, and to the extent that N. Y. State 211 or N.Y.
State 46 prohibit use of Bar Association pamphlets in direct mail
advertising, they are hereby overruled."
For the reasons stated, the questions posed are answered in the