INDIRECT ADVERTISINGSELF-LAUDATIONThe line between proper and improper use of letterheads, envelopes, etc. by a member in connection with correspondence relating to a non-profit or non-business association is to be drawn at the point where the dominant purpose in the use of the stationary of such practicing lawyer appears to be advertising or self-laudation which would, or is intended to, influence new, prospective or old clients.
Does the following letter, written on the letterhead of, and signed by, a practicing attorney, constitute a violation of the Canons of Ethics?
1000 E. 5th St.
You are cordially invited to attend an open meeting of the Blank County Anti-Communist Association at 7:30 oclock P.M. September 31, 1961, at the Hotel Blank. The Blank County Anti-Communist Association earnestly solicits you and your friends attendance.
The association is trying to enlighten and inform the citizens of this area on the evils of Communism, how it operates in trying to destroy our way of life in America, as well as destroy our nation. The Anti-Communist organization is non-profit, has no dues and it costs nothing to join and become a member. To become a member of the association, the only thing necessary is that you sign your name to the membership roll of the Blank County Anti-Communist Association.
The Blank County Anti-Communist Association has been most fortunate in securing John Doe as a guest speaker for Tuesday night, September 31, 1961.
I am sure you will wish to attend the meeting and hear John Doe, who is the moderator for "Party Line" on KXXX and is well known throughout the United States, speak out on Americanism and against Communism. You will have the opportunity to see and meet John Doe, a man who is doing a wonderful job in fighting Communism.
There will be a refreshment hour after Mr. Doe gives his talk and the discussion is completed. Plan now to attend the Anti-Communism meeting Tuesday night, September 31, 1961, at 7:30 oclock P.M. on the Terrace of the Hotel Blank and bring a friend or friends.
Yours very truly,
/s/ Richard Roe, President
Blank County Anti-Communist Association.
It is the opinion of the committee that this question does not turn upon the merits vel non of the organization so long as it is an organization which could reasonably be considered by anyone to be of a civic or semi-civic nature, which is to say, a legal non-profit, public or semi-public organization. Our answer should apply equally to a letter on behalf of the Blank County Anti-Communism Association, the Blank County Integration Association, the PTA, the Blank County Symphony Society or the United Funds. The problem is one of advertising: Can a lawyer use his professional letterhead in connection with correspondence relating to a non-profit, non-business association? The committee feels that use of the letterhead should be permitted as long as the dominant purpose does not appear to be the advertising of one's self as a lawyer. We certainly will not restrict a lawyer from being an officer in a civic club or social club just because he is known to the members as a lawyer and, therefore, may indirectly benefit his law practice from the activity; nor do we restrict from working for the United Fund or from teaching Sunday School even though the by-product may be a benefit to his law practice. A lawyer does not have to conceal from the community the fact that he is a lawyer. The use of the letterhead only identifies him as a lawyer. Texas Opinions 28, 75, 103, 145, 174, 175, 188, 194, 196, 210 and ABA Opinions 68a and 60a can all be reconciled, in the opinion of the committee, by a holding that the line between proper and improper use of letterheads, envelopes, etc. by member in connection with correspondence relating to a non-profit or non-business association is to be drawn at the point where the dominant purpose in the use of the stationery of such practicing lawyer appears to be advertisement or self-laudation which would, or is intended to, influence new, prospective or old clients. Judging the letter in question by this standard, the committee believes that said letter does not violate Canon 24. (9-0).