104 N.J.L.J. 204
August 30, 1979
Accountant's Name on Law Firm Entrance
Attorney's Second Office with Realtor
Out-of-state Admission on Letterhead
Out-of-state P. O. Box on Letterhead
This opinion deals with four inquiries, each with some
relationship to the new Disciplinary Rule DR 2-101, et seq.
(1) The first inquiry is whether it would be proper for the name of an accountant, who rents office space in the suite of a law firm, to appear on the common entrance door with the law firm. In our opinion the names of the accountant and law firm might properly be located on a common entrance door so long as it does not tend to
create the appearance of a partnership or association, which would be improper under DR 3-103(A). The impropriety of such relationship
between attorneys and those in nonlegal businesses and professions is indicated by our Opinions 9, 86 N.J.L.J. 617 (1963); 23, 87 N.J.L.J. 19 (1964); 129, 91 N.J.L.J. 365 (1968) and 228, 95 N.J.L.J. 70 (1972), and care must be exercised so as not to create the appearance of such relationship.
(2) The second inquiry is similar and essentially is whether Opinion 129 is still effective after the recent adoption of DR 2-101 (Publicity and Adverbs as amended by the Supreme Court). Specifically, the inquirer asks whether an attorney who has his principal office elsewhere, may also indicate, by a sign on the entrance to a realtor's premises, that the attorney maintains an office within those premises. The sign is hung just below the sign advertising the realtor's business, and the attorney uses clerical and secretarial personnel of the realtor. Opinion 129 was not made ineffective through the amendments to DR 2-101. DR 2-101, as amended, merely removed the general ban on lawyer advertising while still prohibiting specific improprieties in advertising. DR 2-101(A) and DR 2-102(A). Opinion 129 dealt with the creation of appearance of an improper relationship between an attorney and the real estate business or broker through the set up of the office and operation considered as a whole. The impropriety of the relationship is defined in DR 3-103(A) as well as the opinions cited in the answer to question 1 above, including Opinion 129 and DR 2-102(D). We think that the facts assumed in this second inquiry might well lead to the same result. However, from the facts stated the public could very well assume from the general appearance of the operation, taken as a whole, that there was a relationship between the attorney and the realtor which was improper under DR
3-103(A) or that the lawyer was engaged in the real estate business at that office, contrary to the above cited opinions or DR 2-102(D).
(3) The third inquiry is whether a notation indicating admission to a state bar other than New Jersey may properly appear next to an attorney's name on the attorney's or firm's letterhead. As a general proposition, such notation would constitute no impropriety so long as it does not violate other Disciplinary Rules, such as DR 2-101(A), (B)(6) (deceptive) or (C)(4) (showmanship).
(4) The fourth inquiry concerns the propriety of indicating on an attorney's letterhead that a branch office of a New Jersey firm
is located in a foreign jurisdiction where the inquirer has no office, but merely a post office box. Such a notation on firm letterhead would be improper on its face as being deceptive, in violation of DR 2-101(A). We would also advise the inquirer that if the situation were reversed, i.e., if an out-of-state attorney indicated that he had an office in New Jersey for the practice of
law but, in fact, had only a post office box in this State, that attorney would be prohibited from practicing law in New Jersey under R. 1:21-1. Thus, any indication on his letterhead that he was admitted to practice law in New Jersey, or that he had an office in New Jersey, would be obviously deceptive and misleading, and violative of DR 2-101(A), among others.