81-F-17 - Propriety of a law firm producing a manual about the law firm

FORMAL ETHICS OPINION 81-F-17

The Board has been asked to issue a formal opinion, pursuant to Section
26 of Rule 9 of the Supreme Court, as to the propriety of a law firm
producing a manual setting out the firm's policies and facilities and a
biographical sketch of the attorneys. It would include, among other things,
the name and address of the firm, telephone number, a map showing
accessible parking, photographs and biographical data on all attorneys, and
discussions of scheduling work, confidentiality, conflict of interest,
available research tools and fees (although no schedule would be set
forth). There would be no disclaimer.


The manual would be used to provide information to clients, to others who have made an
initial contact seeking representation by the firm, and it is stated, "There would be no
effect on the firm's responsibilities if a client possessing a manual gave it to someone
else."


Lawyer advertising entails public notice of availability of services at specified rates for
purpose of informing the public and assisting the public in making an informed choice.
Soliciting, on the other hand, connotes an act of entreaty to obtain a particular business
transaction, a personal petition to a particular individual to do a particular thing. See
Koffler v. Joint Bar Assn., 412 N. E. (2d) 927, 51 N. Y. (2d) 140, 432 N. Y. S. (2d) 872,
875; and Knobel v. Estate of Eugene A. Hoffman, Inc., 432 N. Y. S. (2d) 66, 68.
In any event, the proposed manual and distribution thereof do not fall within the ambit of
permissible advertising as laid down in the Code of Professional Responsibility (Rule 8
of the Supreme Court Rules), particularly DR 2-101 and DR 2-103, and the Court's 1978
Opinion In re: Petition for Rule of Court Governing Lawyer Advertising, 564 S. W. (2d)
638.


In its memorandum in support of its request for a formal opinion, the firm concedes the
applicability of DR 2-101, yet overlooks the restrictions set forth therein. For the above
reasons, we do not believe that the production and dissemination of the proposed manual
constitute proper professional conduct at this time.

This 26th day of August , 1981.

ETHICS COMMITTEE:

Joseph G. Cummings
F. Evans Harvill
John R. Rucker

APPROVED AND ADOPTED BY THE BOARD