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The Florida Bar
www.floridabar.org
PROFESSIONAL ETHICS OF THE FLORIDA BAR

OPINION 71-49
October 18, 1971

When a partner withdraws from his firm, he may not continue to be listed as a member of that firm, even though he will continue to handle its trial work on referral basis. The attorney may be listed “of counsel” with his former firm if he maintains a continuing relationship with it.

CPR: EC 2-11; DR 2-102(A)(4)

Chairman Clarkson stated the opinion of the committee:

A member of The Florida Bar, here identified as “D,” has in the past practiced as a partner in the law firm of “A, B, C & D.” He now proposes to withdraw from the firm as a partner and to occupy an adjacent but independent office under an arrangement whereby he will continue to handle his former firm's trial work on a referral basis. He inquires whether:

1. The firm name of “A, B, C & D” may properly be continued under these circumstances, and

2. “D” may be listed as “of counsel” on the firm's letterhead.

The Committee has concluded that EC 2-11 explicitly forbids continuing “D's” name in the firm name after his withdrawal as a partner. The obvious reason underlying EC 2-11 is that it would be misleading to include in a partnership name the name of a lawyer who is not in fact a partner and consequently not responsible for the conduct of the business of the partnership.

The inquirer's second question is answered in the affirmative. DR 2-102(A)(4) provides that: “A lawyer may be designated ‘Of Counsel’ on a letterhead if he has a continuing relationship with a lawyer or law firm, other than as a partner or associate.” One committeeman dissents from this holding, theorizing that the quoted language was not intended to apply to a lawyer proposing to carry on a regular and active law practice independent of the firm from which he has withdrawn.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]