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End-of-life notice: American Legal Ethics Library

As of March 1, 2013, the Legal Information Institute is no longer maintaining the information in the American Legal Ethics Library. It is no longer possible for us to maintain it at a level of completeness and accuracy given its staffing needs. It is very possible that we will revive it at a future time. At this point, it is in need of a complete technological renovation and reworking of the "correspondent firm" model which successfully sustained it for many years.

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Arkansas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct

Comment - Rule 7.5

[1] A firm may be designated by the names of all or some of its members, by the names of deceased members where there has been a continuing succession in the firm's identity or by a trade name such as the "ABC Legal Clinic. " Although the United States Supreme Court has held that legislation may prohibit the use of trade names in professional practice, use of such names in law practice is acceptable so long as it is not misleading. If a private firm uses a trade name that includes a geographical name such as "Springfield Legal Clinic," an express disclaimer that it is a public legal aid agency may be required to avoid a misleading implication. It may be observed that any firm name including the name of a deceased partner is, strictly speaking, a trade name. The use of such names to designate law firms has proven a useful means of identification. However, it is misleading to use the name of a lawyer not associated with the firm or a predecessor of the firm.

[2] With regard to paragraph (d), lawyers sharing office facilities, but who are not in fact associated with each other in a law firm, may not denominate themselves as, for example, “Smith and Jones,” for that title suggests that they are practicing law together in a firm.

[3] The addition of the words “and associates” following the name of a lawyer in a firm name implies to the public that three or more lawyers are practicing law together in a firm. In a law firm context “associate” has come to mean a lawyer employed with or connected with a firm who usually is not a partner. “Associates” is not a proper term to use in a firm name to mean nonlawyer assistants such as secretaries, investigators, law student interns, and paraprofessionals. In using a firm name, a solo practitioner shall not use a title such as “Smith and Associates” as a firm name. If only two lawyers are practicing law together in a firm the singular word “associate” may be used in the firm name with the name of one of the lawyers. If three or more lawyers are practicing law together in a firm the plural word “associates” may be used in the firm name with the name of one of the lawyers.

Code Comparison

With regard to Rule 7.5(a), DR 2-102(A) provides that "[a] lawyer . . . shall not use . . . professional announcement cards . . . letterheads, or similar professional notices or devices, except . . . if they are in dignified form . . . .(and are limited to information) permitted under DR 2-105 . . . ." DR 2-102(B) provides that "[a] lawyer in private practice shall not practice under a trade name, a name that is misleading as to the identity of the lawyer or lawyers practicing under such name, or a firm name containing names of other than those of one or more of the lawyers in the firm, except that . . . a firm may use as . . . its name the name or names of one or more deceased or retired members of the firm or of a predecessor firm in a continuing line of succession."

With regard to Rule 7.5(b), DR 2-102(D) provides that a partnership "shall not be formed or continued between or among lawyers licensed in different jurisdictions unless all enumerations of the members and associates of the firm on its letterhead and in other permissible listings make clear the jurisdictional limitations on those members and associates of the firm not licensed to practice in all listed jurisdictions; however, the same firm name may be used in each jurisdiction."

With regard to Rule 7.5(c), DR 2-102(B) provides that "[a] lawyer who assumes a judicial, legislative, or public executive or administrative post or office shall not permit his name to remain in the name of a law firm . . . during any significant period in which he is not actively and regularly practicing law as a member of the firm . . . ."

Rule 7.5(d) is substantially identical to DR 2-102(C).