Ethics Counsel

Ethics Opinion No. 174

Adopted December 9, 1953


An attorney made inquiry concerning the propriety of sending out a printed leaflet called


A Monthly Digest on everyday tax problems in everyday language

October 1953



800 American Building

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma”


On the following pages of the leaflet appear general discussions on the following questions:

(a) Bad debts

(b) Involuntary sale

(c) Demolition

(d) The preferred taxpayer

The full text is not set out herein, but in brief the text under bad debts partially reads as follows:

“Does anyone owe you money which you find hard to collect? If so, you have a bad debt which may or may not be deductible from income. … The test as to whether it is a business bad debt or a non-business bad debt depends on the character of the debt at the time it became worthless and not when it arose.

A business bad debt is fully deductible from income. A non-business bad debt is a short-term capital loss, which is a limited deduction as provided by law.

Debts which are evidences by bonds, debentures or notes issued by a corporation or government agency are subject to special rules. When a debt represented by such a security becomes worthless, it is a capital loss. Whether it is a long-term or short-term loss depends on the length of time the security was held before it became worthless. …”

Inquiry is made as to whether it is permissible to mail such leaflets to (a) his clients, (b) to other persons, and (c) could a similar leaflet be mailed each month.


An attorney may advise his REGULAR CLIENTS of any new statutes, court decisions, and administrative rulings which affect his clients’ interest.

The communication should be restricted to clients by whom the lawyer is regularly and customarily retained in matters of such nature that the communication is relevant. It definitely should not be sent to persons or concerns other than regular clients.

We think the leaflet submitted is inappropriate and therefore may not be sent to either clients or other persons for the matters covered are too general in nature and do not advise of statutes, recent court decisions or administrative rulings and would have the rather obvious purpose of being an indirect solicitation of business. (See advisory opinion 213 of the American Bar Association.)