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NUMBER 388 1950
Question. Is it professionally proper for AC and BC, two brothers, who are both members of the New York Bar and also certified public accountants of the State of New York, to practice accountancy at the same office in New York City where they practice law, placing on their office door the following legends:
C & C, Attorneys and Counselors at Law
C & Company, Certified Public Accountants
Answer. Two principles are involved in the consideration of this question. The first, grounded on Canon 27, is that an attorney at law, acting as such, may not by any form or medium of advertising, announce to the public at large that he has a special skill in a particular branch of the law. This prohibition extends to every type of publicity, including legends on office doors, stationery, announcements, letters, circulars, etc.
The other principle, also established by Canon 27, is that a lawyer may not solicit professional employment by advertisements, circulars, or by personal communications or interviews not warranted by personal relations.
We are aware that the Committee on Professional Ethics and Grievances of the American Bar Association, in its Opinion 272 (October 25, 1946), expressed the view that a lawyer could not, as a practical matter, carry on an independent accounting business from his law office without violating Canon 27. With all due respect to the Committee on Professional Ethics and Grievances of the American Bar Association, we have come to the conclusion that neither of the aforesaid prohibitions of Canon 27 would be violated by the procedure set forth in the question, provided that AC and BC, in the practice of their profession as certified public accountants, adhere to the professional standards applicable to attorneys at law with respect to advertising and solicitation. In our opinion the proposed legends on the office door would merely identify the firms occupying the premises and the professions practiced by them therein, and would not constitute either advertising or solicitation by AC and BC within the meaning of Canon 27.