April 12, 1978
A law firm that is merging with a sole practitioner may continue to list deceased partners on its letterhead and may also indicate on the letterhead the name of the firm prior to the merger.
CPR: DR 2-102(A)(4)
The inquiry is from a law firm which carries the names of deceased partners on its letterhead, showing the fact and date of demise. That law firm is merging with a sole practitioner and inquires if it can ethically list on its new letterhead both the names of the deceased partners, as is presently done, and also designate that the law firm formerly was known as the name of one of the original firms before the merger.
It is the Committee’s opinion that the merged law firm may continue to show on its letterhead the names of the deceased partners of the previous law firm showing the fact that they are deceased. Further, in this specific instance, since the merger took place between a firm with a number of partners in it and a sole practitioner, practicing as a professional association, it would not be misleading to the public to state on its letterhead that the law firm formerly was known as its prior name.
DR 2-102(A)(4) states, in substance, that a letterhead of a law firm may also give the names of deceased and retired members and that the letterhead of a law firm may give the names and dates of predecessor firms and a continuing line of succession. Opinion 72-39 of this Committee also addresses this subject.
Questions such as this are answered by determining whether or not the proposed action will be misleading to the public. The Committee feels, in this instance, that the proposed action would not mislead the public.