The Florida Bar

Ethics Opinion

Opinion 71-39

October 20, 1971
Advisory ethics opinions are not binding.
An investigator employed full time by a law firm may use the law firm’s name on his
business card.

ABA Informals 881 (1965), 909 (1966), 1185 (1971)
[See current 4-7.21]

Committeeman Massey stated the opinion of the committee:
A member of The Florida Bar employs an investigator. He desires to have a card
imprinted as follows:
Street and Number
City, State, Zip
There will be no indication that the address is one of a law office.
The Committee finds there is no impropriety in the proposed action, assuming the
investigator is a full-time employee working for no one else. The Committee further assumes the
activity of the investigator is that duly and ethically allowed to be handled by a law assistant.
As a matter of interest, the ABA has considered similar questions in informal opinions
881 (1965), 909 (1966) and 1185 (1971). The ABA opinions determine a law firm does not
necessarily violate ethical principles by permitting an investigator, also an employee, to use a
business card bearing his name and position and additionally the law firm’s name, address and
telephone number. The ABA committee determined the firm would be accountable for the lay
assistant’s actions and conduct and would have to ensure the investigator’s activities did not
result in advertising or solicitation in behalf of the law firm, or even appear to do so.
A majority of this Committee would adopt the view expressed by the ABA. A minority
finds the use of the law firm’s name on the card to be improper, but do agree to the use of the
card with address and telephone number thereon.