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Opinion Number 608-
QUESTION (Sequel to Opinion No. 593)
In Answer No, 593 (1971) this Committee answered an inquiry from a New York City law firm as to whether it would be proper for it to enter into arrangements with lawyers in Rome and London for representation of its clients in those cities and to list the addresses of such lawyers on its New York letterhead as its Rome and London offices. We expressed the opinion that the proposed arrangements were equivalent to those with correspondent attorneys and it has long been held that listing the name of a foreign correspondent on a law firm’s letterhead is improper as advertising.
The same firm now proposes a modification of these arrangements under which the Rome attorney, who is a sole practitioner, would be employed at a salary as an associate of the New York firm to devote about 75% of his time to the clients of the New York firm which would pay a proportionate share of his office rent and expenses. The London lawyer, who is an associate of a London firm, would also be employed at a salary by the New York firm to spend 75% of his time on the clients of the New York firm which would pay the rent, and expenses of space in the London firm to be segregated and identified as being allocated to the New York firm’s business The question is whether the new proposal would permit listing of the offices of the foreign associates as foreign offices of the New York firm
This Committee is of the opinion that listing the offices of the foreign associates on the letterhead of the New York firm as its offices abroad would not be proper, The device of paying the foreign lawyer a salary and a part of his expenses is a change of form rather than substance. The relationship would still be that of a correspondent especially in view of the fact that the foreign associate is an independent lawyer with other clients not related to the New York firm.
November 16, 1972.