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Since its inception, NYCLA has been at the forefront of most legal debates in the country. We have provided legal education for more than 40 years.
The author of a book intended to inform young girls concerning the legal profession and the opportunities it offers as a career proposes to describe the activities of an actual practicing woman lawyer, referring to her by a fictitious name or nickname, but illustrating the text with photographs showing her engaged in various activities connected with the conduct of her law practice. The lawyer who has been asked to be the subject of the text and photographs inquires if it would be proper for her to participate in such conduct?
The question posed here is one calling for the application of DR 2-101(A):
“‘A lawyer shall not prepare, cause to be prepared, use, or participate in the use of, any form of public communication that contains professionally self-laudatory statements calculated to attract lay clients; as used herein, ‘public communication’ includes, but is not limited to, communication by means of television, radio, motion picture, newspaper, magazine, or book”‘.
It seems clear that this book may involve a certain amount of “‘self-laudation”‘ for the lawyer involved. However, the propriety of publication is to be determined on the basis of all the circumstances involved:
“‘Whether or not in any given instance it would be considered unethical for a lawyer to furnish material about his legal activities, for the purpose of having an article published, would depend upon a number of matters , including the motive of the lawyer, the subject matter of the proposed article, its purpose and tone…”‘ ABA inf. 552 (1962)
Here the purpose and content of the book are not “‘calculated to attract lay clients.”‘ Since the attorney will not be identified by name, but simply by photographs , the possibility of effective advertising seems minimal. The fact that the book will be directed at young people is further evidence that there is no intention to engage in solicitation of legal business.
This opinion does not extend beyond the attorney’s cooperation in preparing the book. Care must be taken to require that the advertising and manner of distribution of the book comply with the standards of propriety which are imposed by the Code. In no event should the name of the lawyer subject be publicized. DR 2-101(B).
Of course this opinion is not to be interpreted as an endorsement of the right of a lawyer to be photographed in the courts or other locations where breach of administrative rules would be involved.
May 10, 1972.