May 17, 1973
Ethics Opinon 1973-14
SUBJECT: SOLICITATION--SPONSORSHIP OF COFFEE HOUR MEETING
An attorney member of the San Diego County Bar Association is also an affiliate member of the South Bay Cities Board of Realtors. He has been asked to sponsor one of their Friday morning coffee and donut meetings. May the attorney ethically sponsor, and we presume pay for, such a meeting?
The attorney's sponsorship of a coffee hour would be violative of Canon 27 of the Canons of Professional Ethics of the American Bar Association and Rule 2 of the Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of California.
STATUTES AND CANONS
Both Rule 2 of the Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of California and Canon 27 of the Canons of Professional Ethics of the American Bar Association proscribe the solicitation of professional employment either directly or indirectly.
Instances of indirect advertising, condemned by Canon 27, have been discussed in the following formal opinions:
(1) Opinion No. 140--involving deliberate newspaper publicity of the lawyer's handling of cases;
(2) Opinion No. 59--regarding the sending out of Christmas books; and
(3) Opinion No. 107--regarding the sending out of Christmas greetings.
The Committee on Professional Ethics and Grievances of the American Bar Association has considered numerous questions involving Canon 27.
In Informal Opinion No. C-623 (3-11-63), the Committee held that holding an open house in the office of the attorney for "public officials and prominent businessmen" constituted indirect advertising.
Informal Opinion No. C-757 (3-31-64) provided that a law firm, whose general practice included real estate, could not invite realtors to a Christmas party at the firm's offices or at a private gathering place since this also constituted advertising.
In Informal Opinion No. C-796 (12-11-64), the Committee held it improper to invite insurance adjustors and agents who were not then the attorney's clients to a private party at a convention.
The Committee, in Informal Opinion No. C-815 (12-24-64) approved the entertainment of persons in the casualty insurance field since the attorney represented those persons and was entertaining them only for the purpose of appreciation for past business.
Since it would appear from the question submitted that the attorney wishes to entertain, at his expense, persons who may in fact become clients, his sponsorship would constitute indirect advertising of the sort proscribed by the above referenced Rule and Canon.
This opinion is advisory only. It is not binding upon the State Bar, the Board of Governors, its agents or employees.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Canon 27 of the A.B.A. Canons was followed prior to 1970; this subject is now covered by DR 2-101 of the A.B.A. Code of Professional Responsibility. California Rule 2 was superseded by Rule 2-102 effective 1/1/75.
Disclaimer: This opinion was issued by the Legal Ethics Committee of the San Diego County Bar Association. It is advisory only and is not binding upon any member of the SDCBA, any other member of the State Bar of California, the State Bar of California or its Board of Governors, or any persons or tribunals charged with regulatory responsibilities. The SDCBA, its officers, directors, agents, and the Legal Ethics Committee members assume no responsibility or liability in rendering this opinion.