NUMBER 391 1950
Question. An attorney writes the Committee as follows:
I am an attorney and also a real estate and insurance broker, I would like to know if it is ethical for me to put my name up on buildings when I wish to sell the same, and also to carry on my insurance business by advertising for insurance work.
Is it necessary that I adopt a trade name or some other method of keeping my name off any advertising for real estate and insurance.
I have a store office and my name appears on the store office as an attorney and also the words “insurance and real estate broker.” I would appreciate a prompt reply, in as much at I am renewing my license and would have to state whether I have a trade name filed, or not.
Answer. In its answer in Opinion 114, the Committee held that there was no professional impropriety in a lawyer, while in active practice, also carrying on a real estate business. By the same token, an attorney may act as an insurance broker. The Committee there stated that it did not favor the practice since it had a tendency to lower the essential dignity of the legal profession.
As to the required standards of ethics in such cases, we said: “Where an attorney acts qua broker, as well as qua attorney, his conduct qua broker must conform to the high standards of professional conduct imposed by the Canons of Professional Ethics,” (See Opinion 380.)
Since the carrying on by an attorney of another business cannot be condemned by any accepted standards in the profession in this country, the Committee in its answer in Opinion 114 indicated that the advertising of such other business is not essentially improper if the advertisement be in such form as to avoid the interpretation that it is a solicitation of professional employment as a lawyer or the solicitation of business or employment because the advertiser is a lawyer.
The Committee in its answer in Opinion 179 approved the use of a trade name in the separate conduct by a lawyer of a business organization. However, a number of the members of the Committee did not favor the practice of using the individual name of the lawyer as the name of a corporation or of a trade or business organization.
We are of the opinion that the mere placing of a “For Sale” sign on a building by a real estate agent who is also a lawyer, without indicating that he is a lawyer, is not improper.
The Committee is of the further opinion that the use of an attorney’s name in the same store office with the conjunctive use of the descriptive words “Attorney, Insurance and Real Estate” is objectionable as being improper in form and offensive to good taste. The use of the legend “Attorney” after the name on a store window with the additional legends “Real Estate and Insurance” separated from the word “Attorney” and on some other part of the window would not be objectionable.