NUMBER 348 1939
Question. Several attorneys desire to form same sort of organization among themselves which will offer to all attorneys the following services: briefs, memoranda of law, research, and assistance in writing books and legal articles. The services will be similar to those rendered by research assistants in law firms, i.e., the aid will be anonymous, with no contact with the courts or laymen, the theory being that the attorneys to whom the brief or legal writing is submitted may use the material as if submitted by some law clerk.
All attorneys have special qualifications to render this service. Each has attained the highest scholastic achievement. Two have been law review editors, and each has had considerable experience in research and brief writing.
1. May we render our service under an assumed name, such as ‘‘Legal Writing Associates”?
2. If the answer to the first question is in the negative, may the attorneys who contemplate a partnership, first, hold themselves out in law journal advertisements directed to lawyers as willing to accept work of the aforesaid nature; secondly, address letters to a selected list of attorneys, known and unknown to the addressors, embodying the same information?
3. If the answer to question 1 is in the negative, may the letters mentioned in question 2 contain the words “Legal Writing Associates” anywhere in conjunction with the names of the attorneys?
4. May the letters to attorneys state the advantages of the service and qualifications of the associates?
Answer. In the opinion of the Committee, the attorneys who contemplate the partnership may proceed as they propose, subject to the restrictions applicable to any attorney or firm or group of attorneys.
The first question must be answered in the negative. There is an express prohibition in Canon 33 of the American Bar Association’s Canons of Professional Ethics against the use of assumed or trade names.
In answer to question 2, they may hold themselves out in the law journal or other professional publications, and may announce their availability to lawyers known and unknown to them, provided that the form of the announcement complies with the provisions of Canons 27 and 46.
In answer to questions 3 and 4, they may not use the assumed name in conjunction with their names, as attorneys, nor may they state the advantages of their services or their qualifications, other than to the limited extent permitted by Canons 27 and 46.
The propriety of any advertisement or announcement cannot be approved by the Committee without specific examination of its form and content, and, in any event, apart from its propriety, it should be scrutinized by the attorneys themselves from the point of view of good taste.