Ethics Counsel

Ethics Opinion No. 45

Adopted December 28, 1932

The Board of Governors is in receipt of the following request for an opinion:

“I wish an advisory opinion on the following question and trust that you will see that this letter gets to the proper source of information.

The city of P. has recently revised its city ordinances and are available in book form. The population at large is unfamiliar with these ordinances so the local newspaper has decided to publish a portion of them every day along with some explanatory remarks by a local attorney. The attorney A, has been asked to undertake this work which, if carried out, will appear as a special column carrying the attorney’s name and a small statement by the editor. It is understood that he, the attorney, is to receive no remuneration for this work.

Attorney A above wishes to learn the advice of the State Bar Association as to the ethics or rules of professional conduct involved.”

In response:

The proposed course of conduct is not in contravention of Rule 42 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, which provides:

“A lawyer may with proper propriety write articles for publication in which he gives information upon the law; but he should not accept employment from such publications to advise inquirers in respect to their individual rights.”

Nor does it come within the inhibition of Rule 29, which interdicts advertising, direct or indirect.

There is no other pertinent rule. The proposed plan therefore does not violate the rules of professional conduct of the State Bar.

We are supported in this conclusion by Opinion 264 of the Committee on Professional Ethics of the New York City Lawyers’ Association which, however, incorporates the admonition that a member of the Bar should not advise persons inquiring of him as a result of the publications, as to their respective individual rights.