Once you have selected your corporate structure, you have to select a firm name. You have undoubtedly put some thought into this decision. However, does your favorite law firm name comply with the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar? Below are the rules and some Florida Bar opinions relating to the naming of law firms that you should review before selecting that perfect firm name.
OPINION 76-42, April 12, 1978, A law firm that is merging with a sole practitioner may continue to list deceased partners on its letterhead and may also indicate on the letterhead the name of the firm prior to the merger.
OPINION 76-11, December 19, 1977, It is improper for attorneys who share office space and secretarial services to hold themselves out as a partnership when they are not partners.
OPINION 86-1, April 1, 1986, Committee opinions disapproving use of the term “Associates” in the name of a law firm are withdrawn in light of the Florida Supreme Court decision permitting such use.
OPINION 68-58, January 17, 1969, A professional association that includes the designations “Professional Association,” “P.A.,” or “Chartered” in the firm name gives clients adequate notice of its corporate form. If the corporation operates under a fictitious name, it is sufficient notice if the client is informed at the outset of the retainer that the firm is a professional association.
Here are all the Ethics Opinions regarding Law Firm Names:
- “Associates” used in name 86-1
- Deceased lawyers’ names continued in firm name 64-20, 65-55, 69-20, 72-39
- “Firm name” used by in-house attorneys 98-3
- Including names of lawyers not partners or shareholders 74-20
- Interstate firm using same name in Florida as in other jurisdictions 74-48
- Judge’s name kept in firm name 64-20, 67-8
- “Law offices of…” 68-36
- Name of partner on 18-month leave of absence kept in firm name 72-18
- Professional associations 61-19, 61-19 (Supp), 68-58, 69-20, 74-20
- Public official’s name kept in firm name 64-20, 67-8, 70-64
- Trade Names 93-6, 93-7, 94-6
- Withdrawn partner’s name kept in firm name 71-49, 00-1
See the Ethics Department’s complete Subject Index of Ethics Opinions.
*Note: Advisory Ethics Opinions are not binding.
VIEWS AND CONCLUSIONS EXPRESSED IN ARTICLES HEREIN ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHORS AND NOT NECESSARILY THOSE OF FLORIDA BAR STAFF, OFFICIALS, OR BOARD OF GOVERNORS OF THE FLORIDA BAR.