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                                         98 N.J.L.J. 513
                                        June 12, 1975


Appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court


Foreign Attorney in Firm's Name
Management Representation Specialty

    The announcement which forms the basis of this opinion states:

            Smith announces the removal of his, offices to New City, New Jersey
            Where he and Jones of the New York Bar have formed a partnership
            X and Y shall be associated with the firm of Smith and Jones
        The firm, in addition to specializing in labor matters representing management, will be engaged in the general practice of law.

    Does the announcement violate the Disciplinary Rules with respect to (a) the partnership and (b) "advertising" a specialization? Regarding the partnership, Disciplinary Rule 2-102(C), adopted in July, 1971 by the New Jersey Supreme Court, provides:
        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 other permissible listings make clear the jurisdiction limitations on these member and associates of the firm not licensed to practice in all listed jurisdictions; provided, however, a firm name may not be used in New Jersey unless all those names are or were members of the bar in New Jersey.

And, as detailed in Opinion 223, 94 N.J.L.J. 1197 (1971), the Code of Professional Responsibility adopted by the ABA Committee on Evaluation of Ethical Standards differs from the rule adopted by the New Jersey Supreme Court in that it provides "the same firm name may be used in each jurisdiction." The New Jersey Supreme Court's change in the rule must be regarded as of significance.
    In 1967 under the Canons of Professional Ethics, Canon 33, ABA Formal Opinion 318 concluded: "It would be improper to maintain an office in a state under a partnership name which includes the names of partners not licensed to practice in that state, unless such practice is condoned by local custom and usage in the state where the office is to be maintained."
    The practice of using a partnership name which includes the names of partners not locally admitted has never been condoned in New Jersey even prior to the express prohibition adopted by the New Jersey Supreme Court. Opinion 152, 92 N.J.L.J. 333 (1969), reasoned:
                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. No firm name may be chosen which would tend to induce a belief that all members of the firm were admitted to practice in the State of New Jersey, if such is not the case.

We there concluded "that the firm name in New Jersey should not contain the foreign attorney's name."
    Although the announcement of the partnership in this instance does not specifically set forth the firm name, the notice indicates "X and Y shall be associated with the firm of Smith and Jones" (emphasis added). This suggests that the firm will be known by the name of Smith and Jones, which is improper under DR 2-102(C).

    In addition to the problem of the firm name with respect to an interstate partnership, the announcement presents the question of
"advertising" practice in a specialized area. DR 2-106(A)(3) states:
        A lawyer available to act as a consultant to or as an associate of other lawyers in a particular branch of law or legal service may distribute to other lawyers and publish in legal journals a dignified announcement of such availability, but the announcement shall not contain a representation of special competence or experience. The announcement shall not be distributed to lawyers more frequently than once in a calendar year, but it may be published periodically in legal journals. (Emphasis added)

    In Opinion 283, 97 N.J.L.J. 362 (1974), this Committee held that, “When an attorney announces his availability to other lawyers he hopes that his reputation has, already been noted by some members of the profession, and that requests for his consultation will be forthcoming. But, the use of language stating that he is available 'to render specialized legal pertaining to environmental, housing, land use planning and control, renewal, and zoning matters and cases' (emphasis added), can only be calculated as an attempt not to announce his availability but to promote his services to lawyers who are not yet familiar with his background and expertise. It is a prohibited form of advertising. This is the crux of the problem."
    The A.B.A. Canons of Professional Ethics, Canon 46 prior to its revision in 1956 was identical to the Code provision currently in effect in New Jersey. This Committee in Opinion 49, 87 N.J.L.J. 465 (1964), dealt with an announcement by attorneys "experienced in Negligence, Workmen's Compensation and Real Property." The opinion held that the services listed were too broad a range to come within the purview of "specialized legal services" as contemplated in Canon 46. The prime motivation was, considered to be advertising rather than the availability of special services.
    The notice questioned in New Jersey Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics, Opinion 107, 90 N.J.L.J. 245 (1967), was related to "tax lien foreclosures" as specialized legal service. Again, Canon 46 was strictly construed. The test used was:
            Any class of work which the average lawyer is equipped and willing to handle cannot be said to be a specialty despite the fact that a lawyer may resurrect himself to such a class of work and acquire an unusual degree of proficiency.

    While under the revised Canon 46, an announcement indicating particularized services, in the field of labor law was considered acceptable; under the Code DR 2-102(A)(2) and 2-105, by which New Jersey is bound, it is not. A.B.A. Comm. on Professional Ethics, Informal Opinion 876 (1965), quotes from Opinion 165 (1955) of the Committee on Professional and Judicial Ethics of the State Bar of Michigan: "It is not even open to question that practice in the field of labor law is not a specialization within the meaning of Canon 46 as to entitle such claimed specialization to special notice."
    Even if the statement of such specialty were allowed, this announcement would be improper in these respects. It is set forth as a flat statement of expertise not as an offer of particularized services. Secondly, the phrase "representing management" completely negates the notion of availability and colors the announcement with the blush of solicitation.
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