(DR2-102 (A)(1)


A firm of attorneys describing themselves as representing the members of a railroad trainmen’s welfare fund and a trainmen’s branch of transportation union ask whether there is any ethical objection to the firm’s printing an annual calendar on the back of business cards which they give to their clients.




At the outset, it appears irrelevant in connection with this question that the attorneys represent members of a welfare fund and a branch of a union. Even if the fund or the union or its branch recommends or pays for lawyers for its members, under DR2-103(D)(5) (d), the members and not the organization are to be recognized as the clients. The ethical question in connection with the proposed cards is the same whether they are given to members or to other clients of the attorneys.


DR2-102(A)(1), as amended, provides in relevant part:


“(A) A lawyer or law firm shall not use or participate in the use of professional cards, —- except that the following may be used if they are in dignified form:


(1) A professional card of a lawyer identifying him by name and as a lawyer, and giving his addresses, telephone numbers, the name of his law firm and any information permitted under DR2-105 [relating to limitation of practice and specializations]. A professional card of a law firm may also give the names of members and associates. Such cards may be used for identification but may not be published in periodicals, magazines, newspapers, or other media.”


The principles of these provisions and other parts of the Disciplinary Rules of the Code of Professional Ethics relating to the professional notices, letterheads, offices and law lists are derived from Canon 27 of the former Canons of Professional Ethics. Canon 27 stated inter alia that “the customary use of simple professional cards is not improper.” N. Y. State 200 (1971) includes guidelines covering the use of professional cards under DR2-102(A) (1).


DR2-102(A) (1) approves the use of professional cards imprinted only with specifically enumerated information, The traditional rationale for so limiting the information appearing on professional cards is to prevent their use as an improper advertising device. Placing a calendar on a card would promote repeated use and indiscriminate distribution of the card, thereby tending to broadcast the firm name. N. Y. Co. #267 provides that professional cards should not be embellished. Also, the distribution to clients of imprinted pens in lieu of cards, has been found improper; Maru, Digest of Ethics Opinions 520 (1954) (38 wis. B.B. 37).


It also would appear that a card containing a calendar is not in dignified form. To approve the inclusion of a calendar might open the way to inclusion of other information wholly irrelevant to the practice of law which could be violative of the mandate of DR2-102(A) requiring professional cards to be in dignified form.


We are not unmindful of recent developments concerning advertising by lawyers, and criticisms and legal actions relating to the subject. These, however, do not affect our conclusion in this case.


We therefore conclude that imprinting an annual calendar on a professional card would be professionally improper under DR2-102 (A) (1).


October 1, 1976