The Florida Bar
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PROFESSIONAL ETHICS OF THE FLORIDA BAR

OPINION 69-20
July 23, 1969

A professional association may include in its name the names of deceased members of a predecessor partnership that were previously included in the partnership name.

Canon: 33
Opinion: 67-3

Chairman MacDonald stated the opinion of the committee:

We are told by an inquiring member of The Florida Bar that his firm adopted the name of A, B, C and D approximately 25 years ago, those at that time being the surnames of the four partners of the firm. Through the years, by virtue of retirement and death, only D remains an active partner, although C is alive and is listed as being of counsel to the firm. We are asked whether the firm may not properly in the course of effecting a transition to the status of a professional association adopt the name of “A, B, C and D, P.A.”

Canon 33, which in Florida deals not only with the names of partnerships, but also with those of professional service corporations, expressly provides: “The continued use of the name of a deceased or former partner or shareholder when permissible by local custom is not unethical but care should be taken that no imposition or deception is practiced through this use.”

This Committee has previously declined to establish such local custom (see our Opinion 67-3) (since withdrawn), but assuming the name of the partnership as presently existent properly includes the name of deceased or retired partners under applicable local custom, we can see no reason why the effect of the explicit provision of the Canon as above quoted cannot be given in this instance. No viable distinction is created in our minds by virtue of the transition from one status to the other, as compared with the propriety in the first instance.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]