The Florida Bar

May 27, 1970

It is not improper for two lawyers to share a common reception room and library facility although they are not partners and do not have a common responsibility to their respective clients, provided every reasonable effort is made to avoid creating any impression that a partnership exists. Specifically, the lawyers should use separate letterhead and building directory listings, and should direct a common receptionist not to use language that would imply a partnership.

Canon: 33

Vice Chairman Gregory stated the opinion of the committee:

Two Florida lawyers desire “to share a common reception room, use common library facilities, etc., but do not wish to become partners.” One of them requests the Committee's advice as to “the proper wording for professional stationery and listing on the building directory where the offices are located.”

The use of a common reception room and common library facilities by lawyers who do not have a common responsibility to all their respective clients is not of itself objectionable. Under such circumstances, however, the lawyers involved are responsible for devoting every reasonable effort to avoid creating any impression that a partnership between them exists. Each lawyer should use an entirely separate letterhead including his own name only, with no reference to any other lawyer sharing the common facilities. Each such lawyer should be listed individually and separately from the others on all building directories, the office entrance or otherwise where the lawyer's name may properly be exhibited. The receptionist in greeting callers, answering the telephone and otherwise should be directed to avoid any conduct or language which might imply to others that the lawyers have joint professional responsibility.

Subject to the admonitions stated, the Committee concludes that the utilization of the joint facilities contemplated will comply with Canon 33 and is proper.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]