I am an attorney and counsellor at law duly admitted to practice in the State of New York.
I am in the process of broadening the scope of my business to include a real estate department. I will act in the capacity of a real estate broker and will hire two salesmen. I have already mailed the necessary papers to the Department of State to obtain a real estate broker’s license.
My questions to your Committee are threefold:
1. Should I have separate stationery so as not to interfere with my law business?
2. Is it permissible to circularize my clients stating to them that I am in the real estate business and would be happy to serve and help them in the sale or purchase of any homes, etc.?
3. Is it permissible to advertise real estate listings under my name?
The Committee adheres to the principle expressed by it in earlier opinions, that there is no impropriety in a lawyer engaging in business while in active practice. It does not, however, regard such a business enterprise as broadening the scope of his law practice, as indicated in the second paragraph of the question. On the contrary, the real estate business of the attorney must be completely divorced from his law practice and he should be guided by the following principles:
1. The office of the real estate business preferably should not be located in his law office.
2. The stationery of the real estate business shall not indicate that the owner is an attorney nor shall the legal stationery indicate or imply that the attorney has any connection with the real estate business.
3. The attorney must conduct his business with due observance of the standards of conduct required of him as a lawyer.
4. He shall not put the solication of business upon the ground that he is a lawyer; hence it would be improper for him to circularize his clients as such in connection with his real estate business.
5. He shall neither directly nor indirectly make his business a means for solication of professional employment.
6. Neither he nor any of his partners or associates shall act as the attorney in any transaction in which he or his salesmen have been the brokers, nor shall he or they share in any fee of any other attorney acting in such transaction.
7. It would be permissable to advertise real estate listings in the name of his real estate business, provided the above principles are observed.
Dated; April 9, 1959.