Is it professionally proper for an attorney to distribute copies of a speech he has made before a group of life insurance agents dealing with federal tax problems (or reprints of the speech or parts thereof as published in various trade journals) to his existing legal clients, and to “bankers, lawyers and other persons who have or have had business relationships with the attorney’s legal clients or with the attorney directly” and to indicate in such distributions that he is both an attorney and a certified public accountant?
It is improper for an attorney to advertise his qualifications as a certified public accountant, whether on his business cards, letterhead or other communications. To distribute any material which shows that an attorney is also a certified public accountant would, in the opinion of the Committee, be improper.
If the material and any covering letter does not indicate that the attorney is also a certified public accountant, the propriety of distribution would depend upon its subject matter and the relationship of the parties. Thus the propriety of sending the material to clients and to the attorney’s business and professional associates would depend essentially upon whether the subject matter of the material and the relationships are such that the sending of such material would not smack of advertising. This will depend upon the facts of each case for which the attorney must assume responsibility (see our Opinion 248). Distribution of the material to “bankers, lawyers and other persons who have or have had business relationships with the attorney’s legal clients” would not be justified, in our view, in the absence of direct personal relationships between the attorney and such third persons warranting communications of the nature involved.
It is assumed that the subject matter of the speech is sufficiently general to eliminate any possibility that the speech would be construed by any person with whom the attorney does not sustain a professional relationship as constituting legal advice with reference to a particular factual situation (see our Opinion 264).
The foregoing opinion is grounded in the previous opinions of this Committee that it is not improper, with certain limitations, for a practicing lawyer to practice public accounting at the same time (see our Opinion 388). It should be pointed out that the position of our Committee on this basic question is now under reconsideration in view of the opinions of the American Bar Association on Professional Ethics and Grievances to the contrary.
January 3, 1963.