FLORIDA BAR ETHICS OPINION
January 12, 1971
Advisory ethics opinions are not binding.
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.
[Note: See, The Florida Bar v. Savitt, 363 So.2d 559 (Fla. 1978), which discusses the
requirements of a bona fide interstate partnership.]
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Florida Opinion 70-35 [since withdrawn] held that it is inappropriate to list an attorney on the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.