B & C, P.C., a Pennsylvania professional corporation, has engaged an associate, A, who is currently a member of the Other State bar and expects to be admitted to the Third Jurisdiction bar in the near future. Mr. A is not admitted to practice in Pennsylvania. Also, Mr. C, Mr. B and Mr. A have formed a partnership for the practice of law in Third Jurisdiction. The Third Jurisdiction firm and the Philadelphia firm will be affiliated with each other and you anticipate a merger within six to twenty-four months.
Specifically, you have asked whether you can ethically use your B & C, P.C. letterhead with the following additions:
1. A designation in the upper right hand corner which reads: affiliated with B, C, and A (address and phone number of Third Jurisdiction office).
2. A listing of Mr. A's name, with an asterisk indicating that he is only admitted to practice in Other State (and Third Jurisdiction after he is admitted), in the upper left hand corner.
Your inquiry is governed by Canon 2 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and DR2-102, as adopted by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. DR-102(C) provides that:
A partnership shall not be formed or continued between or among lawyers licensed in different jurisdictions unless all enumerations of the members and associates of the firm on its letterhead and in other permissible listings make clear the jurisdictional limitations on those members and associates of the firm not licensed to practice in all listed jurisdictions; however, the same firm name may be used in each jurisdiction.
Assuming the facts set forth in your letter are correct, the letterhead you have described would conform to the requirements of DR2-102. The letterhead you have described also appears to be consistent with Rule 7.5 of Mode1 Rules of Professional Conduct, as adopted by the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association on August 2, 1983. Rule 7.5(b) states that:
A law firm with offices in more than one jurisdiction may use the same name in each jurisdiction, but identification of the lawyers in an office of the firm shall indicate the jurisdictional limitations on those not licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where the office is located.
I am also enclosing, for your consideration, the American Bar Association Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility's Formal Opinion 84-351 (October 20, 1984) which deals with letterhead assignation of affiliated or associated law firms. The opinion explains the type or relationship between two law firms which is necessary before a letterhead can include the words affiliated. The pertinent rules here are DR2-101(A) and Model Rule 7.1 which provide that communications by a lawyer concerning legal services may not be false or misleading.
We hope this response will be helpful to you. As you are aware, this is not the opinion of the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. This response is not binding and carries only such weight as may be given to it by an appropriate reviewing authority.
We will continue to remain available to you should you desire further information.