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Ethics Opinion

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March 15, 1982


    It is improper for lawyers who are not in fact stockholders in a professional corporation nor in a partnership to utilize a joint letterhead or to otherwise hold themselves out as members or associates of the same firm.

    References: Dr 2-102(B) and (C); CI-6, CI-111.


X and Y are lawyers who are practicing together in X & Y, P.C. They rent space, share a library and work on cases together with said professional corporation and the lawyers who own the same, namely X and Y. A letterhead is used with designation, X, Y, and Z. It is inquired whether such designation is in violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Canons.

DR 2-102(B) and (C) state:

    "(B) 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 other than those of one or more of the lawyers in the firm . . . ."

    "(C) A lawyer shall not hold himself or herself out as having a partnership with one or more lawyers unless they are in fact partners."

In CI-111, the Committee opined that it was improper for lawyers who are not in fact stockholders in a professional corporation or in a partnership to utilize a joint letterhead. CI-6 also indicated it was improper for lawyers who are neither partners nor associates to use a joint letterhead. Therefore, the use of the designation, "X, Y and Z is improper.



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