Ethics Counsel

Ethics Opinion No. 118

Adopted September 25, 1936

The Board is in receipt of the following communication from a firm composed of members of the Bar.

“We are establishing an insurance adjusting department in our office to handle insurance adjustments of all kinds and we plan to add to our letterhead to the left “Insurance Adjustment Department,” together with the writer’s name who will be in charge of the department, and we may want to add the name of one or more adjusters as being in the adjustment department …We wish you would let us have your reaction to this at your earliest convenience.”

In response:

As said by the A. B. A. Committee on Professional Ethics and Grievances in its opinion No. 57:

“The adjustment of insurance claims by a lawyer is professional employment. In performing such a service his professional skill and responsibility are engaged.”

Therefore, no objection can be seen to the notation on the letterhead with the name of a member of the bar used in connection therewith. That amounts merely to a statement of a special branch of the profession practiced. (Rule 45.)

Assuming that the “one or more adjusters” are not members of the bar, the use of their names on the letterhead is objectionable. As said in Opinion 54 of the A. B. A. Committee on Professional Ethics and Grievances:

“The use of the name of a layman on the stationery of a lawyer, representing the former as conducting or managing a department of a lawyer’s professional activities, is improper because it too readily lends itself to the solicitation of employment or the use of it for advertising purposes by the layman so employed.”