NUMBER 367 1941

Question. A lawyer familiar with the provisions and application of certain special laws, such as the income tax law, the Wagner Labor Relations Act, the Sherman and Clayton Acts, and the like, desires to deliver lectures with respect to such laws before bodies of business and professional men such as trade associations, chambers of commerce, clubs, and so forth. He wishes to write letters to such bodies informing them of the desirability of such lectures and suggesting that he is qualified and available for such purpose. The attorney would expect to be compensated if employed to deliver a lecture, although in some cases he might be willing to make no charge.

In view of the constantly increasing regulation of business and industry, it is extremely desirable that business and professional men should be informed of their rights and obligations under special laws. The lectures, therefore, would serve a very useful purpose. Of course, the attorney’s letters to likely prospects would stress the usefulness of the lecture and the ground which it would cover. The lawyer would also state that he was qualified to deliver the lecture, by reason of familiarity with the special Jaw and his prior experience as a lecturer. The letter would be written on the attorney’s regular letterhead.

Is the seeking and acceptance of employment as above indicated professionally proper?

Answer. The Canon to be considered in this connection is Canon 27, of the Canons of the American Bar Association, which is entitled “Advertising, Direct or Indirect.” This Canon specifically condemns “solicitation of professional employment by circulars, or advertisements, or by personal communications or interviews not warranted by personal relations.” It also condemns “indirect advertisements for professional employment.”

It can undoubtedly be argued that although the proposal in Opinion 367 involves the seeking of employment by a lawyer, it should not be condemned as contrary to Canon 27 because such employment is not to be in his professional capacity as an attorney, but rather as an instructor and teacher to inform those interested generally of the application and requirements of certain special legislation affecting them. Nevertheless, it will be a case of a lawyer seeking employment by personal communications apparently not warranted by personal relations, and for a purpose which necessarily involves his professional qualifications to advise on certain special legal problems. Even if his primary purpose were only to augment his income by the compensation which he can obtain from such lectures, it seems to us that the inevitable result will be to advertise his qualifications to a large number of prospective clients and to afford the opportunity for obtaining employment in his strictly professional capacity as an attorney.


In the opinion of the Committee the proposed solicitation is improper and is therefore disapproved.