Ethics Opinion 1972-14

October 17, 1972



What is the propriety of installing a sign on a building which would depict the word "Attorneys" in five inch letters spanning a distance of approximately three feet? The sign would be included in a one foot by six foot area among several other signs comprising a total area of 18 by 6 feet.


The proper size of the sign is a question of fact and would depend largely upon the setting and dignity of the sign's appearance. The names of the attorneys and the designation "Attorneys at Law" might be more appropriate.


Prior opinions written in this area comment that the determination of propriety depends largely upon the setting and the dignity of the sign's appearance. Other association ethics committees have suggested that a sign designating law offices should be no larger and no more conspicuous than the signs designating other law offices in the surrounding area. One opinion states the following test:

"Is the sign intended and calculated to enable persons looking for a lawyer, already selected, to find him, or to attract the attention of persons who might be looking for a lawyer not yet selected. See also, Drinker, Legal Ethics, page 231 (1953).


The propriety of such a sign is primarily a question of fact. It would be helpful, therefore, for one or more members of the Ethics Committee to personally view the proposed sign before the Committee takes a position other than that mentioned above.

The suggestions made above would also seem to apply to the designation "Attorneys". The designation of names, plus "Attorneys at Law" might be more appropriate than simply "Attorneys." One could assume that the landlord, by having the word "Attorneys" on his signboard, would gain some advantage for prospective tenants. If this could conceivably be the case, then the designation of the lawyers' names would seem to be more appropriate and in line with the suggestions and positions taken by other associations.

This opinion is advisory only. It is not binding upon the State Bar, the Board of Governors, its agents or employees.


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.