The Florida Bar

January 21, 1963

It is not unethical for a lawyer to write a letter to a candidate for public office on his office letterhead, lauding the candidate and concluding with the wording, “Please feel free to use this letter in full or in part if it will be helpful.”

Canon: 27

Chairman Holcomb stated the opinion of the committee:

The Committee on Professional Ethics has considered the request of a member of The Florida Bar for an opinion as to the propriety of a lawyer writing a letter on his office letterhead, addressed to a candidate for public office, lauding the candidate and concluding with the wording: “Please feel free to use this letter in full or in part if it will be helpful.” A photo copy of the letter was published in a local newspaper with the heading: “Mr. X endorses Candidate Y.”

This Committee does not believe that any disciplinary action could be predicated upon such an endorsement. Any attempt to curtail the political activities of members of the Bar would be of doubtful constitutional validity and unsound from the point of public policy. There is no way to completely divorce an attorney's support of a political candidate from the fact that the attorney is a member of the Bar. Every American citizen has the right to endorse candidates.

Of course, if the publication of the letter was intended in any way to secure business for the lawyer as distinguished from securing votes for the man for whom the letter was written, a different situation would be presented.

It would be well for attorneys to obtain stationery which does not show their profession to be used on such occasions.

The matter seems to be one of intention. If the attorney was solely seeking to assist the candidate and had no other motive, we cannot condemn his actions as unethical, although perhaps they were ill-advised.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]