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The Florida Bar
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PROFESSIONAL ETHICS OF THE FLORIDA BAR

OPINION 71-31
AUGUST 20, 1971

A newspaper column to be written by members of a legal aid society, which examines various legal problems and encourages readers to consult a lawyer about their own legal problems, is proper.

CPR: EC 2-1, 2-3, 2-5
Integration Rule: Art. XIV

Committeeman Gregory stated the opinion of the committee:

Members of a Legal Aid Society have requested the advice of the Committee with respect to a newspaper column which the Society proposes to run periodically in local newspapers. We are advised that the authors of the articles will not be named, although at the conclusion of the prototype article submitted, the public is generally urged to contact an attorney as soon as any problem develops and those persons who feel they are financially unable to procure the services of a private attorney are given the name and address of the Legal Aid Society.

The prototype article submitted to the Committee presents a statement of facts involving an area of landlord-tenant law affecting Tom Tenant and his landlord, Larry Landlord. The discussion of the legal implications of the factual situation is general in its content but concludes with an indication of the proper determination of the problem presented.

The prototype article contains the following language, which the Committee is advised will be included in any future articles prepared and published:

It should be understood by the reader of this article that the foregoing illustration is subject to different interpretations in each particular case that may arise and no one reading this article should attempt to apply his own particular situation to the principles described herein.

The Code of Professional Responsibility at EC 2-1 states that one of the "important functions of the legal profession" is "to educate laymen to recognize their legal problems." The activity of the Legal Aid Society here involved is not for the purpose of affording personal benefit, publicity or causing litigation to be brought for harassment purposes as is deemed improper in EC 2-3, but to the contrary is obviously motivated by a desire to protect "one who does not recognize that he may have legal problems or who is ignorant of his legal rights and obligations." The caveat quoted above satisfies the limitations imposed by EC 2-5. The committee concludes that the publications in the form proposed are eminently proper.




[Revised: 08-24-2011]