A law firm may list, on firm letterhead and in other communications, lawyers who are not employed by the firm but are “of counsel” to the firm. To avoid being misleading, however, the firm letterhead and other communications must conspicuously identify the “of counsel” lawyers’ status as well as any other limitations on their relationship with the law firm.
Subject to the requirement that a law firm’s website address not be false or misleading, the mere use of “.org” by a for-profit law firm does not violate the Arizona Rules of Professional Conduct. Ariz. Ethics Op. 01-05 is modified accordingly.
A law firm must remove from the firm's name the name of one of the partners of the firm once the partner is transferred to disability inactive status by the Supreme Court. [ERs 7.1, 7.5]
A group of lawyers who share an office suite but are separate firms may share a common phone number for communications with Spanish-speaking prospective clients and hire a common receptionist simply to route calls to lawyers in the group based upon practice area without being deemed a "referral service." Such an arrangement appears to be group advertising. If the receptionist's only interaction with the prospective clients is to forward the calls to the appropriate attorney, then his or her common employment by the separate firms probably will not impute conflicts among the group members. [ERs 1.6, 1.10, 5.3, 7.1(r)(3), 7.5]
A law firm domain name does not have to be identical to the firm's actual name but it otherwise must comply with the Rules of Professional Conduct including refraining from being false or misleading nor may it imply any special competence or unique affiliations unless factually true. A for-profit law firm domain name should not use the top level domain suffix ".org" nor should it use a domain name that implies that the law firm is affiliated with a particular non-profit organization or governmental entity. [ERs 7.1, 7.4, 7.5]
A law firm may list on its letterhead attorneys who are not admitted to the State Bar of Arizona as being "Of Counsel" to the firm. The law firm must state on the letterhead the "Of Counsel" attorneys are not members of the State Bar of Arizona, identify that they are "only admitted" in certain states and that their practice in Arizona is limited to federal law matters. They also may indicate the out-of-state attorneys are available only for consultation in federal Social Security matters. The law firm may engage in a fee sharing arrangement by both paying and receiving fees from the "Of Counsel" attorneys. [ERs 1.5(e), 5.5, 7.1, 7.5]
A lawyer who is also an accountant may indicate both professional titles on his legal stationery, but: (1) the business must remain separate (financially and for advertising purposes although they may "reside" in the same physical location); (2) the non-legal business may not be used as a "feeder" for the law firm (i.e. clients of the non-legal business should not be solicited for legal work); (3) clients who are referred to the non-legal business must be advised of the lawyer's interest in the accounting firm and that the attorney-client privilege does not extend to the accounting work; (4) appropriate safeguards must be in place to assure against breaches of confidentiality and conflicts for the legal practice; and (5) the lawyer should not indicate that he is a lawyer in his accounting advertisements unless he complies with the Ethical Rules on advertising. [ERs 1.6, 1.7, 1.8, 5.4, 7.1, 7.5]
This opinion discusses several ethical issues with respect to lawyers using the Internet to communicate including, for example, confidentiality concerns when sending email to a client, advertising considerations for websites and the applicability of Arizona's Rules of Professional Conduct to communications disseminated from or received in Arizona [ERs 1.6, 1.7, 5.5, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, 7.5]
Lawyers employed full-time as salaried in-house insurance company lawyers should not hold themselves out as a separate law firm under one or more of their surnames because to do so misrepresents their insurance company affiliation in violation of ER 7.5, as well as presenting other possible ethical problems. [ERs 1.7, 1.8, 2.1, 7.5)
An Arizona attorney may be hired as an associate to operate the Arizona office of an out-of-state law firm as long as: (1) the associate has a bona fide employment relationship with the firm; (2) the Arizona attorney must be fully responsible for the Arizona office, including the supervision of partners in Arizona who are not yet admitted in Arizona (and limiting their practices to federal law); and (3) the firm must clearly indicate on all communications and letterhead where each of the attorneys is admitted and that the Arizona associate is the managing associate for the Arizona office. [ERs 5.1, 5.2, 5.5, 7.1, 7.5]
This opinion provides guidelines for both lawyers who are admitted in other states while they await admission in Arizona and for the Arizona Bar members who supervise those "foreign" lawyers. The guidelines include a non-exhaustive list of what the foreign lawyers may and may not do while awaiting admission and what supervision is required by the Arizona attorneys. [ERs 5.3, 5.5, 7.5]
Proposed law firm name, "ABCD Law Center" held a trade name.
Attorney may apply court-awarded attorney's fees and costs to the balance owed him if client is not responding to repeated telephone calls and letters.
Use of name of retired or semi-retired partner in law firm's name and the level of required disclosure as to his or her status in listings.
Listing non-lawyer support personnel on lawyer's or firm's letterhead.
Unethical use of corporate law firm name, "X and Associates" when no associate lawyers are employed.
Lawyer using the slogan "We take the pain out of accidents."
Attorney who is also a real estate broker communicating this fact on his legal letterhead to solicit real estate business.
Multi-person law firm listed on letterhead and other communication of another law firm as "of Counsel" to that firm.
Attorney showing area of specialty on his letterhead that is not recognized by Arizona Board of Legal Specialization.
Law firm may indicate that attorney becoming "of counsel" is a retired Judge.
Proposed association between Arizona lawyer and a two-man New York law firm subject to certain conditions.
Unless corporation is not-for-profit and bar association approved, it is improper to cooperate with corporation who proposes to provide group advertising and refer potential clients to participating attorneys.