Ethics Opinion 1974-11

July 3, 1974



A Directory is to be issued by the San Diego Chamber of Commerce which will list all members. The Directory will have a classified section in which there will appear an alphabetical profile of member firms. Member firms have the option of listing in the classified section and if listed will pay for the privilege. The entire directory will be financed by classified advertising. There appear to be two questions presented. (1) Whether it is objectionable for an attorney or law firm to be listed in the directory; and (2) Whether such attorney or law firm may pay for the classified advertising and appear in the classified section.


(1) An attorney or law firm member of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce may be included in a Directory of the members of that organization. However, no fee may be paid for this listing and the information given should be limited to the name of the attorney or law firm involved. (2) It would be improper for an attorney or law firm to be listed in the classified section.


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 forbid the solicitation of professional employment either directly or indirectly. Rule 2 in particular provides that a member of the State Bar shall not solicit professional employment by . . . "Using a newspaper, magazine, radio, television, books, circulars, pamphlets, or any medium of communication, whether or not for compensation, to advertise the name of the lawyer or his law firm or the fact that he is a member of the State Bar or a bar of any jurisdiction; . . ."


The Committee on Professional Ethics and Grievances of the American Bar Association has considered questions of the type involved here on a number of occasions. Under Informal Opinion No. 258 it was the Committee's opinion that a local Chamber of Commerce may list attorneys in their Membership Directories, if the list carries no more than the attorney's name, the fact that he is an attorney, and the name of his firm, if any, and provided that the attorney does not pay for the listing (emphasis added). Informal Opinion No. 456 states that an attorney may not pay a fee to have his name listed in a Chamber of Commerce Directory that lists business concerns and professional men. Informal Opinion No. 816 states that an attorney may allow his name to be listed in a community guide by occupation where the guide does not list all of the attorneys of the community and if he does not solicit such listing and does not pay a fee for it. Informal Opinion No. 816 also states that an attorney may pay dues to a community "Board of Trade" which lists in its community guide only its members and their occupations.


It would appear clear from the foregoing that an attorney or law firm member of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce would be permitted to be included in the alphabetical portion of the Directory provided that the information given is limited to name, and occupation, or in the case of an individual attorney the name also of his law firm and provided that no payment is made for the listing. It would appear that under no circumstances should an attorney or law firm utilize the classified advertising portion of the Directory. This is proscribed under two grounds, one because it is to be paid and the other because by its very nature it would be "advertising."

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

EDITOR'S NOTE: California Rule 2 has been superseded by Rules 2-101 through 2-104 effective 1/1/75. Canon 27 was followed prior to 1970; this subject is now covered by Canon 2 of A.B.A. Code of Professional Responsibility. The State Bar of California has issue proposed amendments to the Rules involving advertising; if approved by the Supreme Court the information that may be listed in directories will be expanded.


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.