March 1959

ADVERTISING—SOLICITATION—VOLUNTEER PUBLIC DEFENDERSA lawyer may properly volunteer free legal advice and assistance to the indigent and needy so long as it is not done with the improper motive of self-advertisement.

Canon 24.


A retired lawyer, 70 years of age but in vigorous health, desires to volunteer to defend, without compensation, indigent and needy defendants appearing before the courts of his home county.  Would it be unethical or in violation of the principles of the State Bar for him to so volunteer his services ?


The interest and concern of the attorney in the inquiry should be commended.  For many decades public-spirited lawyers have volunteered free legal advice and assistance to the needy.  "There is nothing whatever in the Canons to prevent the lawyer from performing such an act, nor should there be ."  (ABA Opinion 148.)  So long as such services is not performed with the improper motive of self-advertisement it is both ethical and commendable.  Under the facts of the inquiry the attorney's suggested course of assistance seems eminently proper.  (7-0.)