87 N.J.L.J. 190
March 26, 1964
Partnerships with Patent Lawyer Letterheads
An attorney inquiries as follows:
A New Jersey firm has been approached by
a patent attorney registered to practice
before the United States Patent Office. The
attorney desires to form an association with
the firm restricted exclusively to the
practice of patent law. The attorney is
admitted to practice as an attorney at law in
Washington, D.C., but not in New Jersey.
1. Would the association violate the Canons of Professional Ethics or the New Jersey Court Rules?
2. May the firm include the attorney's name followed by the designation "Patent Attorney" and notation that the attorney is admitted in Washington, D.C. only, on its stationery?
3. Is the notation of admission in Washington, D.C. on the stationery necessary?
It is the opinion of this Committee that the proposed formation of the partnership and the related proposals are all improper. A New Jersey firm is presumed for all purposes to consist of lawyers who have been admitted to practice in the State of New Jersey. A patent lawyer registered to practice before the United States Patent Office would have no right to have his name included in the New Jersey firm, nor is his association proper in any listing, whether it be on the firm's stationery or otherwise, because the patent attorney as such is not a lawyer authorized to practice in this State. This being so, such a contemplated association would obviously violate the Canons and our New Jersey
While the applicant does not specifically ask the question, nevertheless, if he were to join the New Jersey firm in his capacity as a member of the bar of another state, it might be proper for him to have his name on the stationery of the New Jersey firm with the quotation "Admitted in Washington, D.C. Only," but under no circumstances would his designation as a patent attorney or his connection with the practice of patent law be permitted on the stationery or elsewhere.
There are innumerable opinions written on this subject in various states and at various times. See Ass'n. of the Bar, City of N.Y., Committee on Professional Ethics, Opinions 545 (1940), 628 (1943), and N.Y. County Lawyers Ass'n, Committee on Professional Ethics, Opinions 209 (1922), 345 (1938). See also A.B.A. Comm. on Professional Ethics and Grievances, Opinion 257 (1944), where the Committee went to great length in discussing this entire subject,
and it would be of interest to anyone seeking advise on the subject to read that opinion. See page 29 of the 1957 volume of that Committee's opinions where there is a report of a number of decisions and opinions, all as reflected in a discussion of the Canons of Professional Ethics, Canon 33.
See also A.B.A. Committee on Professional Ethics and Grievance, Opinion 263 (1944), where the status of foreign lawyers admitted to
practice in one state, who seek information as to their ability to advise clients on various subjects in other states, is discussed in great detail.