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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.

Many people have contributed time and effort to the project over the years, and we would like to thank them. In particular, Roger Cramton and Peter Martin not only conceived ALEL but gave much of their own labor to it. We are also grateful to Brad Wendel for his editorial contributions, to Brian Toohey and all at Jones Day for their efforts, and to all of our correspondents and contributors. Thank you.

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Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct

Comment - 7.5

[1] A firm may be designated by the names of all or some of its members or by the names of deceased members where there has been a continuing succession in the firm’s identity. The letterhead of a law firm may give the names and dates of predecessor firms in a continuing line of succession. A lawyer or law firm may also be designated by a distinctive website address or comparable professional designation. 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 or the name of a nonlawyer.

[2] With regard to division (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. The use of a disclaimer such as “not a partnership” or “an association of sole practitioners” does not render the name or designation permissible.

[3] A lawyer may be designated “Of Counsel” if the lawyer has a continuing relationship with a lawyer or law firm, other than as a partner or associate.

[4] A legal clinic operated by one or more lawyers may be organized by the lawyer or lawyers for the purpose of providing standardized and multiple legal services. The name of the law office shall consist only of the names of one or more of the active lawyers in the organization, and may include the phrase “legal clinic” or words of similar import. The use of a trade name or geographical or other type of identification or description is prohibited. The name of any active lawyer in the clinic may be retained in the name of the legal clinic after the lawyer’s death, retirement, or inactivity because of age or disability, and the name must otherwise conform to other provisions of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct and the Supreme Court Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio. The legal clinic cannot be owned by, and profits or losses cannot be shared with, nonlawyers or lawyers who are not actively engaged in the practice of law in the organization.

Comparison to former Ohio Code of Professional Responsibility

With the exception of DR 2-102(E) and (F), Rule 7.5 is comparable to DR 2-102.

The provisions of DR 2-102(E), which prohibits truthful statements about a lawyer’s actual businesses and professions, are not included in Rule 7.5. The Rules of Professional Conduct should not preclude truthful statements about a lawyer’s professional status, other business pursuits, or degrees.

DR 2-102(F) is an exception to DR 2-102(E) and is unnecessary in light of the decision to not retain DR 2-102(E).

Comment [3] is substantially the same as the Ohio provision on the “of counsel” designation.

Comment [4] addresses the restrictions of DR 2-102(G) relative to operating a “legal clinic” and using the designation “legal clinic.”

Comparison to ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct

Rule 7.5 combines Model Rule 7.5 with DR 2-102, with one exception. Rule 7.5(a) retains the prohibition in DR 2-102(B) that a lawyer shall not practice under a trade name. The Model Rule prohibition extends only to the use of a trade name that implies a connection to a governmental, charitable, or public legal services organization.