120 N.J.L.J. 789
October 29, 1987
Firm Name: Disapproval of Name
Containing the Word "Associates"
The inquirer is the principal of a law firm. He employs one
other attorney as an associate of that firm. The inquirer would
like to call his firm "X Associates," where the name "X" is the
inquirer's last name. He is aware that the more frequently used
designation would be "X and Associates," but he prefers not to
adopt this particular form because he believes his proposed name is
more distinctive and that the applicable rule "does not prohibit
individuality or require absolute uniformity, nor should it."
The Committee disagrees with the inquirer's position and interprets RPC 7.5(a) as requiring absolute uniformity in the format of firm names. In relevant part, the rule reads:
Except for nonprofit legal aid or public interest law firms, the name under which a lawyer or law firm practices shall contain only the full or last name of one or more of the lawyers in the firm or office or the names of a person or persons who have ceased to be associated with the firm through death or retirement.
On its face, this rule prohibits a firm name from containing any word or phrase other than proper names. It further limits the proper names that are acceptable (i.e., those of lawyers actively practicing with the firm, and those who had been active but have retired or died). These prohibitions impose the very type of uniformity that the inquirer denies.