OPINION 338
March 1968

SOLICITATION ADVERTISING LISTINGS IN COMMERCIAL PAGES OF TELEPHONE DIRECTORIES An Attorney may be listed in the commercial or yellow pages of a telephone directory only in the city where he maintains his office within this rule however, it is permissible to be listed in the commercial pages of a metropolitan area directory which includes the city where he maintains his office.

Canons 24, 39.

Facts

The city of Metropolis is a large city surrounded by a number of suburban cities, A, B and C, etc. The telephone company servicing Metropolis publishes two directories for the entire metropolitan area, one containing the white pages entitled "Alphabetical Directory for Greater Metropolis" and one containing the yellow pages entitled "Greater Metropolis Yellow Pages." The company also publishes a combination directory for each of the suburban cities, containing both white and yellow pages. Some attorneys maintain their offices in the suburban cities where they reside. Many other attorneys reside in a suburban city but maintain their offices in Metropolis.

Questions

1. Is it ethical for an attorney who resides in A, B or C, but maintains an office only in Metropolis, to be listed in both the Greater Metropolis Yellow Pages and the yellow pages of A, B or C, listing the telephone number of his Metropolis law office?

2. Is it ethical for an attorney who maintains an office in A, B or C to be listed in the yellow pages of both the Greater Metropolis Directory and in the yellow pages of his suburban directory, listing the telephone number of his suburban city office?

3. Is it ethical for an attorney who maintains his office in suburb A to be listed in the yellow pages of suburb B or C, where he does not maintain an office?

4. Is it ethical for an attorney ho resides in any of the subject cities, but is not engaged in the active practice of law, to advertise in the yellow pages of any of the directories, listing his home telephone number?

Opinion

A classified telephone directory listing is not a professional card within the meaning of Canon 39 and by its very nature constitutes advertisement which, strictly speaking, would be in violation of Canon 24. However, as we stated in Opinion 241 (August, 1961), such listings are permissible as a matter of convenience to the public. The controlling question is whether the particular listing is reasonably calculated to serve the purpose of public convenience or rather is calculated to solicit business. In Opinion 241 we concluded that listings outside the community u here the attorney maintains his office smack more of solicitation than of serving the convenience of the public and we reaffirm that view.

Thus, it is clear that an attorney officing in Metropolis may not ethically be listed in the classified directory of A, B or C and likewise an attorney officing in A may not be ethically listed in the classified directory of B or C.

The Greater Metropolis Directory presents a somewhat different problem. It seems apparent, however, that the primary purpose of such a directory is to serve the public convenience of the entire Metropolitan Area. Therefore, it is our opinion that an attorney officing anywhere in the Metropolitan Area may be ethically listed in the yellow pages of the Greater Metropolis Directory.

Question 4, pertaining to the non-practicing lawyer, is unique. The majority of the Committee is of the opinion that if an attorney is not engaged in the practice of law there would be no violation of Canon 24 for him to list his home telephone number in the yellow pages of a directory. However, it is difficult to perceive of any valid reason for listing in the yellow pages if he is not engaged in practice and one might suspect that such a listing is for the purpose of obtaining business to refer to another attorney who is engaged in the active practice. If so, there would be a clear violation of Canon 24.

To sum up, it should be remembered that yellow page listing is permitted only as a convenience to the public and if a listing goes beyond that legitimate purpose it constitutes solicitation, in violation of Canon 24. (8-0.)