As a result of a request by one of our clients, we are forwarding the following ethical inquiry to you for opinion.
The aforesaid client is ostensibly a business broker principally engaged in bringing about mergers and consolidations of various firms and corporations. It is his opinion that solicitation of future mergers and consolidation possibilities could best be effected by a direct mail campaign to the firm which, based upon their past business experience, would be most interested in proposed mergers.
The client is of the opinion that greater effectiveness could be given this campaign if the letter addressed to said firm was on the stationery of his legal counsel, to wit: this firm, rather than on his personal corporate stationery. The question posed by this procedure is whether or not this would constitute a solicitation by this law firm for legal business and, therefore, be against the Canons of Ethics.
The conduct outlined would clearly constitute a violation of Canon 29 and may also be in violation of Canon 27.
The law firm, in utilizing its stationery for the purpose of generally effectuating a direct mail campaign on behalf of its client, does so merely to give certain prestige to the client’s brokerage business, and it seems clear that such is the sole purpose of this conduct. The Committee believes that a previous Opinion compiled in the Opinions of the Committees on Professional Ethics of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York and the New York County Lawyers’ Association, Opinion No. 597 appearing at pages 339-340, is in point in stating that an attorney should not permit his reputation as a lawyer to be used as a means for the promoting or the advertising of the business of a client.
Dated: October 11, 1960