112 N.J.L.J. 384
October 6, 1983
Interstate Referral of Clients
The questions presented are (1) whether a New Jersey firm can
have a Pennsylvania firm listed on its letterhead, as "X, Y & Z, P.
A. Of Counsel, Admitted to Practice in Pennsylvania only", and (2)
if the use of the Pennsylvania firm name is improper, whether it is
proper to list the members of the Pennsylvania firm on the
letterhead as "Of Counsel" with limitation that they are admitted
in Pennsylvania only. The relationship between the firms is that of
each firm referring legal matters to the other.
In Opinion 512, 111 N.J.L.J. 381 (1983) we held that a Pennsylvania firm name could be used on a letterhead where there was in fact an interstate partnership relationship.
The present inquiry states, "On a regular basis this firm refers clients to the Philadelphia firm and in reverse many clients are referred to this firm from Philadelphia." There is no partnership relationship.
DR 2-102(C) provides as follows:
A lawyer or a professional corporation shall not hold himself or itself out as having a partnership with one or more lawyers or professional corporations unless they are in
fact partners. 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 in other permissible listings make clear the jurisdictional limitations on those members 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 named are or were members of the bar in New Jersey. (emphasis added)
In our opinion the language of this rule is clear that the firm name cannot be used, and it applies also to the listing of the individual members of the Pennsylvania firm. In fact there is no partnership being formed or continued. See Opinion 223, 94 N.J.L.J. 1197 (1971); Opinion 316, 98 N.J.L.J. 822 (1975); and Opinion 476, 107 N.J.L.J. 321 (l981).
In addition, the proposed letterhead in our opinion would violate DR 2-102(A), which reads as follows:
A lawyer or law firm shall not use or participate in the use of a professional card, professional announcement card, office sign, letterhead, telephone directory listing, law list, legal director listing, or a similar professional notice or device if it includes a statement or claim that is false, fraudulent, misleading, or deceptive within the meaning of DR 2-101(B) or that violates the regulations contained in DR 2-101(C).
It would appear that the proposed listings would be misleading by indicating that the Pennsylvania firm has some relationship with the firm, which is not the case. We can see no valid reason for attorneys to include on their letterheads referral attorneys or firms in other jurisdictions to whom they refer legal matters.