NEW YORK COUNTY LAWYERS’ ASSOCIATION
COMMITTEE ON PROFESSIONAL ETHICS
In answering questions this Committee acts by virtue of the following provision of the By-laws of the Association, Article 54, Section 3:
“This Committee shall have power, when consulted, to advise inquirers respecting questions of proper professional conduct, reporting its action to the Board of Directors from time to time.”
It is understood that this Committee acts on specific questions submitted ex-parte and in its answers bases its opinion on such facts only as are set forth in the question.
QUESTION NO. 661
LETTERHEAD OF NEW JERSEY LAW FIRM AS TO ITS PRACTICE IN NEW YORK SHOULD INDICATE THOSE WITHOUT NEW YORK BAR MEMBERSHIP
When a New Jersey law firm engages in the practice of law in New York on the strength of the fact that one of its active lawyers is a member of the New York Bar, what is the ethically proper form of letterhead that should be used with respect to the firm’s New York practice?
ANSWER TO QUESTION NO. 661
The ethical propriety of a New Jersey law firm practicing in the State of New York appears to be well-established. Disciplinary Rule 2-102(D) of the Code of Professional Responsibility permits such a practice and prescribes the standards of professional conduct for multistate firms:
“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; however, the same firm may be used in each jurisdiction.”
While this Committee does not address or express views on questions of law, it seems to be of particular significance that the New York Court of Appeals has recently passed upon the propriety of a multistate firm’s New York practice. In New York Criminal and Civil Courts Bar Association v. Jacoby & Meyers, N.Y.L.J., Feb. 23, 1984, at 1, col. 6 (Feb. 21, 1984), the Court held that it was proper for Jacoby & Meyers, a national law firm with numerous offices in the States of California and New York, to conduct its New York practice under the name of Jacoby & Meyers. The Court indicated that a multistate law firm may practice law in New York if at least one of its active lawyers is admitted to the New York Bar.
Against such a background we now turn to the specific question addressed to the Committee as to the form and content of the letterhead which would be ethically proper for the New York practice of a New Jersey law firm. The proposed New York letterhead (with appropriate modifications to eliminate the actual name of the law firm and its address) reads as follows:
Name of Law Firm, P.A.
Attorney at Law
A Professional Corporation
New Jersey Address
Name of Lawyer New York Address
Member of N.J., FLA & D.C. Bars
Name of Lawyer*
Name of Lawyer
Member of N.J., N.Y. & D.C. Bars
Name of Lawyer*
* Members of N.J. Bar only
The Committee in N.Y. State 434 (1976) responded to an inquiry from a law firm with offices in two states which was comprised of attorneys who were admitted either in New York or in the other state or in both states. It was opined that if a particular lawyer is not admitted to practice in New York an appropriate notation to such effect is required on the New York letterhead so that the letterhead will not be misleading. The opinion stated that a notation “admitted in ‘X’ only would be sufficient. See also N.Y. State 352 (1974), N.Y. State 355 (1974).
Accordingly, as to the letterhead of a New Jersey law firm with a New York office and at least one active member of the New York Bar, the view of this Committee is (a) that, in the case of those lawyers who are members of the Bar of more than one jurisdiction, it is appropriate to indicate each of the jurisdictions of Bar membership under their respective names and (b) that, in the case of lawyers who are members of the New Jersey Bar only, placing an asterisk next to the name of each such lawyer with a notation below stating “*Members of N.J. Bar only” is an appropriate method of indicating which of the lawyers are members of the New Jersey Bar only.
June 30, 1984