OPINION 268
October 1963

ADVERTISING—PROFESSIONAL CARDS—A member who, although employed full time in the legal department of a corporation, engages in private practice not incompatible with his duties, may not properly use the name of the corporation on his calling card which also designates said member as an "attorney at law."

Canons 24, 39.

Question

A lawyer is employed full time in the legal department of a corporation, but he is permitted to do private practice which is not incompatible with his duties. Is it ethical for the lawyer to use a calling card as follows:

TE 0-0000

John J. Doe

Attorney at Law

Suite 0000

000 County Building

Middletown, Texas

North Middletown Corporation

Opinion

The lawyer's calling card is, of course, no to be used for solicitation of legal business. See Opinion 92. A card may be handed to one who has a need for the information it contains, e.g., a new client, a witness, another lawyer, etc. It may contain the lawyer's name, address, telephone number, firm name and profession, and possibly office hours, and little else. See Opinions 3, 54, 198, 209 and 221.

When the attorney is a member of a corporate legal staff, it seems logical to permit the name of the corporation to be shown in lieu of the firm name, since this may be an item of information of legitimate interest to one to whom the card may properly be given in connection with legal matters affecting the corporation, and particularly when the card indicates the named person is a staff attorney not holding himself out to the public as a practicing attorney.

The inference in the wording of the card ("attorney at law") and the inquiry is, however, that the lawyer in question is permitted to and does conduct a private law practice from the office furnished him as a member of the legal staff of a corporation, and that the cards in question (containing the corporate name) will be used in connection with his private practice. When the cards are so used, the name of the corporation is a form of extraneous self-laudation and is not a substitute for a firm name. Therefore, such use does not conform to Texas Canons 24 and 39. (9-0.)