May an attorney write a twice monthly column for a real estate trade paper on generalized legal topics of interest to the real estate profession, and, if so, may the attorney’s picture appear at the head of the column in conformity with the trade paper’s custom with respect to its columnists, together with a brief biographical sketch of the author which reads as follows:


“Mr. X is a New York attorney – a partner in the firm X, Y, and Z. He is the author of two books ‘HOW TO PUT TOGETHER A REAL ESTATE SYNDICATE’ and ‘GOING PUBLIC, STEP BY STEP’. He has lectured to various real estate boards and Bar Associations on real estate and tax law.”



Canon 40 of the Canons of Professional Ethics provides:


“40. Newspapers. A lawyer may with propriety write articles for publications in which he gives information upon the law; but he should not accept employment from such publications to advise inquirers in respect to their individual rights.”


In the opinion of the Committee, Canon 40, though expressly referring to newspapers, appears to be broad enough to permit the writing by a lawyer of the semi-monthly column proposed for a real estate trade paper, particularly since it is not proposed to infringe on the Canon by advising inquirers with respect to their individual rights.


Canon 27 of the Canons of Professional Ethics prohibits advertising, whether direct or indirect, and reads as follows in pertinent part:


“It is unprofessional to solicit professional employment by circulars, advertisements, through touters or by personal communications or interviews not warranted by personal relations Indirect advertisements for professional employment such as furnishing or inspiring newspaper comments, or procuring his photograph to be published in connection with causes in which the lawyer has been or is engaged or concerning the manner of their conduct, the magnitude of the interest involved, the importance of the lawyer’s position, and all other like self-laudation, offend the traditions and lower the tone of our profession and are reprehensible; * * *.”


In the opinion of a majority of the Committee, after giving due consideration to the foregoing Canons and to Opinion No. 859 of the Committee on Professional Ethics of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York which dealt generally with the subject here involved, there would appear to be no objection to the use of the attorney’s photograph at the head of his column. A majority of the Committee feels that the biographical sketch proposed, however, is objectionable insofar as it mentions the law firm with which the writer is connected and the titles of the books he has written, The very fine line separating legitimate identification of the author from even a suggestion of puffing would appear to require the biographical sketch to be recast as follows, in which form it is approved:


“Mr. X is a member of the New York Bar who has written and lectured on legal subjects.”


November 14, 1963