The Florida Bar

June 25, 1975
A group of lawyers may place a dignified ad in a local newspaper urging legislative support of the Equal Rights Amendment.

Note: Subsequent to this opinion The Rules Regulating The Florida Bar were substantially amended to permit advertising.

CPR: DR 2-101(B)

Chairman Zehmer stated the opinion of the committee:

A member of The Florida Bar inquires whether it is ethically permissible for a group of lawyers to place an ad in a local newspaper urging legislative support of the Equal Rights Amendment by listing their individual names in such ad and identifying the individuals collectively as lawyers. The advertisement would be paid for by contributions from each participating attorney.

This question is governed by DR 2-101(B), which provides in part:

A lawyer shall not publicize himself, his partner, or associate as a lawyer through a newspaper or magazine advertisement ... or other means of commercial publicity, nor shall he authorize or permit others to do so in his behalf except as permitted under DR 2-103. This does not prohibit limited and dignified identification of a lawyer as a lawyer as well as by name:

(1) In political advertisements when his professional status is germane to the political campaign or to a political issue.

There is a sharp division of opinion among the members of the Committee, but a majority have concluded that lawyers have the First Amendment right to publicly support or oppose the Equal Rights Amendment and that their professional status is germane to this political issue. The fact that such lawyers are paying for the ad is immaterial. The ad must, of course, be dignified and limit identification of the lawyer to his name only.

The Committee adds this caveat. This opinion is limited to the specific facts stated and is not intended to extend broad approval to lawyers advertising "as lawyers" their support of any and every political campaign or issue. Here we are concerned with high issues of constitutional policy and legal rights where identification of lawyers voicing their support or opposition "as lawyers" may well carry significant weight. Other situations must be considered by the Committee on a case by case basis.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]