OPINION 304
May 1965

ADVERTISING—LAWYERS’ PUBLIC ENDORSEMENT OF POLITICAL CANDIDATE—Whether a paid advertisement by lawyers in support of a political candidate may properly reflect that the endorsers are in fact lawyers depends upon whether their dominant purpose is to advertise themselves or is to lend strength to (and is germane to) the endorsement.

Canon 24, 39.

Question

Winterbottom is a candidate for election to an office in the executive branch of government. A number of lawyers desire to publish in a local newspaper a political advertisement headed "Why Lawyers Support Winterbottom," stating their reasons, urging public support for their candidate, listing the lawyers’ names, and showing that the ad is paid for by "lawyers Committee for Winterbottom." Is it unethical for a lawyer to authorize the use of his name in the advertisement?

Opinion

Lawyers are not prohibited from publicly endorsing political candidates, for they owe a "public duty to endorse and support good men for public office."
Opinion 145 (see Canon 2 re judicial office). Whether the public endorsement may properly reflect that the lawyers are in fact lawyers depends upon whether their dominant purpose in doing so is to advertise themselves or is to lend strength to (and is germane to) the endorsement. Opinion 247, 255 and 273.

 Two members of the committee are of the opinion that the advertisement is deceptive and violates Canon 29 in that it gives the erroneous impression that all lawyers, or lawyers generally, support the candidate. The majority opinion is, however, that the advertisement is not necessarily deceptive, and that although a fact issue as to deception could be raised in a specific case, the decision of such issue is not within the province of this committee. (6-2.)