The Florida Bar
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PROFESSIONAL ETHICS OF THE FLORIDA BAR

OPINION 70-55
January 12, 1971

A Florida attorney's name and address may be added to the stationery of an out-of-state lawyer, the intention being to “associate” the Florida lawyer for purposes of referral between the states. If the Florida lawyer is not licensed to practice in the second state, the letterhead must make clear the jurisdictional limits of the attorney.

CPR: DR 2-102(C)(D)
Opinion: 70-35

Chairman Massey stated the opinion of the committee:

A member of The Florida Bar has a relative who is practicing in another state. The Florida attorney is not admitted in such state, while the relative is not admitted in Florida. It is desired that the Florida attorney's name and address be added to the stationery of the out-of-state lawyer for use in the firm's name, the intention being to be “associated” to the end of handling referrals between the two states and for advisory services. Additionally, the Florida attorney is a member of a Florida firm which may not be involved in the proposed interstate relationship.

Interstate partnerships are authorized under the provisions of CPR DR 2-102(D). The inquiring attorney used the word “associated,” but the import of the inquiry indicates there would be a partnership between him and his relative. Based upon this latter assumption, the proposed conduct is acceptable in Florida under DR 2-102(D). The rule, of course, requires that letterheads and listings make clear the jurisdictional limitations of those members and associates not licensed in all listed jurisdictions.

The crux of the issue here is whether the inquirer and his relative are in fact partners. Florida Opinion 70-35 [since withdrawn] held that it is inappropriate to list an attorney on the letterhead of a Florida firm when the attorney is not admitted to practice in Florida. The cited opinion did, in part, involve DR 2-102(C). For clarification of 70-35, it must be explained that the question of interstate partnership did not come into play in that decision.

The Committee would caution the inquirer to be aware of and comply with DR 2-102(C) and DR 2-102(B). Briefly, an attorney shall not hold himself out as having a partnership unless a partnership in fact exists and, further, an attorney shall not practice under a name that is misleading. Assuming there is a bona fide interstate law partnership proposed by the inquirer, there may exist a problem in the Florida lawyer practicing as a partner or member of a Florida law firm, which firm is not involved with the interstate partnership. Although the Committee is not asked nor does it propose to answer this latter matter, it would seem doubtful that an attorney would be able to legitimately be a full member of a Florida law firm and also at the same time an active partner of an interstate law firm.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]