Legal Ethics Opinion #1577       
"900" Telephone Line for Providing General BankruptcyInformation.

You have presented a hypothetical situation in which Attorney, at
no cost, has furnished answers to general requests for information
about bankruptcy to telephone inquirers. Attorney has grouped the
questions by topic and is prepared to record the questions and
answers and make them available to the public over a "900"
telephone line. Attorney will not record an actual caller, nor will
he engage in dialogue with a caller on the "900" line. Attorney
will advertise the telephone line as "Bankruptcy: general
information line". The message will conclude with the caller being
advised to consult legal counsel for his own specific individual
  You have asked the committee to opine whether, under the facts of
the inquiry, Attorney may properly furnish general information
about bankruptcy by use of pre-recorded information over a "900"
line, provided he advertises the line as "Bankruptcy: general
  The appropriate and controlling Disciplinary Rules related to
your inquiry are  DR:2-101(A) which provides that a lawyer shall
not use any form of public communication if such communication
contains a false, fraudulent, misleading, or deceptive statement or
claim; and  DR:2-101(B) which provides, in pertinent part, that a
public communication for which a lawyer has given value must be
identified as such unless it is apparent from the context that it
is such a communication. Further guidance is available in  EC:2-4
which cautions that "[t]alks and writings by lawyers for laypersons
should caution them not to attempt to solve individual problems
upon the basis of the information contained therein." 
  The committee has previously considered, in LE Op. 1328 the
propriety of a lawyer's advertisement stating that an attorney
would answer all legal questions over the telephone for a period of
one year in return for a specified sum. The committee believes
that, in the facts you pose, Attorney's advertisement is
distinguishable from that in LE Op. 1328 since there is no in-
person communication, and thus, no attorney-client relationship
  Thus, the committee is of the opinion that Attorney's use of the
"900" line would be proper, provided several conditions are met.
First, the message should include a statement which clarifies that
the message is general information only and not legal advice, and
which cautions the listener against trying to solve problems based
on the message's general information. See  EC:2-4. In addition, the
message should not contain any false, fraudulent, misleading, or
deceptive statements. Finally, Attorney must assure that the
advertisement would indicate to callers that: (a) they will be
charged for the call; (b) the content includes an advertising
message; and (c) there are substantial limitations as to the
content's information, as it is of general applicability. See New
York State Legal Ethics Opinion 625 (2/14/92), ABA/BNA Law. Man. on
Prof. Conduct, 1001:6103.
  Committee Opinion
  February 8, 1994