NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATIONProfessional
Ethics Committee Opinion
Opinion #46 - 01/26/1967
Overruled (in part) by 540
Topic: Pamphlets, Education of Lay Public and Clients
Digest: Proper for lawyer to mail pamphlets to clients and make
pamphlets available in office where name does not appear on pamphlets
and purpose is to teach laymen the advantages of legal services
Canon: Former Canon 27
1. Is it ethical for
a lawyer to send to his clients and friends a pamphlet such as "Do you
Need a Will." prepared by the New York State Bar Association?
2. Is it permissible
to leave a supply of such pamphlets in his reception room?
1. It is ethical for a
lawyer to send his clients and friends a pamphlet such as "Do you Need a
Will" and other pamphlets prepared by the New York State Bar
Association, provided that the pamphlet in no way refers to any specific
lawyer or law firm. The name of the individual lawyer or law firm
may not be permitted to appear on the pamphlet. A.B.A. Informal Decision
No. C768 and Informal Opinion No. 846.
Canon 27 of the Canons of Professional Ethics adopted by the New York
State Bar Association forbids solicitation of business, directly or
indirectly, through advertisements or other means. It is quite
clear that advising the public generally of the advantages to be gained
by intelligent guidance of and instruction to the public has been made
an exception to Canon 27. Although these pamphlets are, in a
sense, advertising, their primary purpose is to teach the layman the
benefits and advantages of preventive legal services, benefiting the lay
public and "because of the trouble, disappointment, controversary and
litigation it will prevent, it will enhance the public esteem of the
legal profession and create a better relation between the profession and
the general public.” (Drinker, page 256). See A.B.A. Informal
Decision No. 631.
2. Distribution of such
pamphlets by way of a rack or table in the lawyer's reception room where
they are made available to lay people coming into his office is
permissible so long as the lawyer's name does not appear in or on the
pamphlet itself. A.B.A. Informal Opinion No. 846.
The New York State Bar Association accompanies the pamphlets with the
following notice which governs their distribution:
“1. Pamphlets may be made
available, through a distribution rack in a lawyer's office to clients
and other visitors to the office.
2. Lawyers may distribute
them to active, personal clients.
3. Lawyers MAY NOT
make wholesale distribution of the pamphlets by mail.
4. Lawyers MAY NOT attach
a business card to nor type or imprint their own name or the name of
their firm on the pamphlets.”