Ethics Counsel

Ethics Opinion No. 50

Adopted February 24, 1933

The Board is in receipt of the following request for an Advisory Opinion:

“I have been asked by the Telephone Company, as well as the publisher of a small paper, to permit the running in the classified section of the telephone directory and in such paper, a business card, which would be substantially as follows:

‘……………… …………………… Name of

Attorney ……………… Address Probate, Compensation and General Practice.

Also Specializing in Income Tax Matters. Phone …..’

I desire to know whether about an inch space in either the telephone directory or such newspaper (in classified section thereof) with this or similar wording showing the kind of practice an attorney prefers to handle or is specializing in, is advertising within the rules governing professional conduct of an attorney. I notice this is being done by some attorneys and I have been asked to do so, and for that reason, I believe the matter should be passed on by the Board.”

In response:

The request involves a consideration of State Bar Rules of Professional Conduct Nos. 29 and 45, as approved by the Supreme Court, being identical with the Canons of Professional Ethics of the American Bar Association Nos. 27 and 43. These Canons have been the subject of several opinions of the Committee of that Association on Professional Ethics and Grievances, to-wit, Opinions No. 11, of May 11, 1927, No. 24, of January 24, 1930, and No. 69, of March 19, 1932.

The question of the insertion of a similar card in the classified list of a telephone directory was considered by this Board in Advisory Opinion No. 30, published in the June, 1932 issue of the State Bar Journal.

Upon consideration the Board is of the opinion:

(a) That the insertion of the proposed card in the classified section of the telephone directory would be in violation of State Bar Rule No. 29 because telephone directories do not fall within the exception regarding the publication of lawyers’ cards in law lists; and

(b) That in Oklahoma there is no defined local custom permitting the insertion of such a card in the advertising columns of newspapers, and that the publication of such business cards is not, therefore, sanctioned by local custom, and that being so, the publication of such cards in the newspapers would be contrary to the provisions of Rule 29.