Notice And Order - Law Firm Names - Amendments To RPC 7.5 And Related Rules

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NOTICE TO THE BARLAW FIRM NAMES – AMENDMENTS TO RPC 7.5AND COURT RULES 1:21-1A, 1:21-1B, AND 1:21-1CThe Supreme Court has adopted amendments to Rule of ProfessionalConduct 7.5 (“Law Firm Names and Letterheads”) so as to remove the requirementthat the law firm name include the name of a lawyer and describe the nature of thefirm’s legal practice. The Court also adopted similar amendments to Court Rules1:21-1A, 1:21-1B, and 1:21-1C, concerning law firms that practice in a corporateform such as a professional services corporation, limited liability company, orlimited liability partnership. The amendments were adopted September 9, 2020and were effective upon adoption.The Court took this action based on its review of the RPCs and Court Rulesto ensure compliance with constitutional principles. Up to this point the Court hadrequired that the name of a lawyer practicing with the firm be the officialdesignation of a New Jersey law firm; the inclusion of lawyers’ names in the lawfirm name provides information to consumers about the identity of the firm’slawyers.For purposes of consistency and to ensure compliance with constitutionalprinciples, the Court removed the requirement that a lawyer’s name be part of thelaw firm name and that the law firm name describe “the nature of the firm’s legalpractice in terms that are accurate, descriptive, and informative.” RPC 7.5(e). TheCourt, however, retained the requirement that a law firm trade name must not be“misleading, comparative, or suggestive of the ability to retain results.” RPC7.5(e). To ensure that consumers have necessary information about the lawyers in

the firm, the Court’s amendments to RPC 7.5 include a requirement that when alaw firm name does not include the name of a lawyer, any advertisement,letterhead, or other communication containing the law firm name must include thename of at least one licensed New Jersey lawyer who is responsible for the firm'sNew Jersey practice or the local office of that practice. RPC 7.5(e). Otherparagraphs in RPC 7.5 have been amended for clarity.The amendments to RPC 7.5 and Court Rules 1:21-1A, 1:21-1B, and 1:211C are appended to this notice.Glenn A. Grant, J.A.D.Acting Administrative Directorof the CourtsDated: September 10, 20202

SUPREME COURT OF NEW JERSEYIt is ORDERED that the attached amendments to RPC 7.5 of the Rules ofProfessional Conduct in the Rules Governing the Courts of the State of New Jersey andRules 1:21-1A, 1:21-18, and 1:21-1 C of the Rules Governing the Courts of the State ofNew Jersey are adopted to be effective immediately.For the Court,9.Chief JusticeDated: September 9, 2020

RPC 7.5 Law Firm Names and LetterheadsWA lawyer shall not use a law firm name, letterhead, or other professionaldesignation that violates RPC 7 .1. [Except for organizations referred to in R.1:21-1 (e), the name under which a lawyer or law firm practices shall include thefull or last names of one or more of the lawyers in the firm or office or the namesof a person or persons who have ceased to be associated with the firm throughdeath or retirement.].OU A law firm [with offices] practicing in more than one jurisdiction mayuse the same law firm name in [each jurisdiction] New Jersey, provided the lawfirm name complies with this Rule. In New Jersey, identification of all lawyers ofthe firm, in advertisements, on letterheads or anywhere else that the law firm nameis used, shall indicate the jurisdictional limitations on those not licensed to practicein New Jersey. Where the name of an attorney not licensed to practice in this Stateis used in a law firm name, or where the law firm name does not include the nameof a lawyer in the firm or the name of a lawyer who has ceased to be associatedwith the firm through death or retirement, any advertisement, letterhead or othercommunication containing the law firm name must include the name of at least onelicensed New Jersey attorney who is responsible for the firm's New Jersey practiceor the local office thereof.

( 1 A law firm name shall not contain the name of any person not activelyassociated with the firm as an attorney, other than that of a person or persons whohave ceased to be associated with the firm through death or retirement.@ Lawyers may state or imply that they practice in a partnership only if thepersons designated in the law firm name and the principal members of the firmshare in the responsibility and liability for the firm's performance of legal services .{ru A law firm name may include additional identifying language such as"&Associates" only when such language is accurate and descriptive of the firm. Anylaw firm name including additional identifying language such as "Legal Services"or other similar phrases shall inform all prospective clients in the retaineragreement or other writing that the law firm is not affiliated or associated with apublic, quasi-public or charitable organization. However, no firm shall use thephrase "legal aid" in its name or in any additional identifying language. Use of atrade name shall be permissible so long as it is [describes the nature of the firm'slegal practice in terms that are accurate, descriptive, and informative, but] notmisleading, comparative, or suggestive of the ability to obtain results. Where thelaw firm trade name does not include the name of a lawyer in the firm or the name

of a lawyer who has ceased to be associated with the firm through death orretirement, any advertisement, letterhead or other communication containing thelaw firm name must include the name of at least one licensed New Jersey attorneywho is responsible for the firm's New Jersey practice or the local office thereof.[Such trade names shall be accompanied by the full or last names of one or more ofthe lawyers practicing in the firm or the names of lawyers who are no longerassociated in the firm through death or retirement.]ill In any case in which [an] a legal assistance organization referred to in R.1:21-He) practices under a trade name [as permitted by paragraph (a) above], thename or names of one or more of its principally responsible attorneys, licensed topractice in this State, shall be displayed on all letterheads, signs, advertisementsand cards or other places where the trade name is used.Official Comment to RPC 7.5{e) by Supreme Court {July 27, 2015)By way of example, "Millburn Tax Law Associates, John Smith, Esq."would be permissible under the trade name provision of this rule, as would "Smith& Jones Millburn Personal Injury Lawyers," provided that the law firm's primarylocation is in Millburn and its primary practice area is tax law or personal injurylaw, respectively. "John Smith Criminal Defense and Municipal Law" would alsobe permissible. However, neither "Best Tax Lawyers" nor "Tax Fixers" would bepermissible, the former being comparative and the latter being suggestive of theability to achieve results. Similarly, "Budget Lawyer John Smith, Esq." is notpermissible as it is comparative and likely to be misleading; "Million DollarPersonal Injury Lawyer John Smith, Esq." is not permissible as it suggests the

ability to achieve results; and "Tough As Nails Lawyer John Smith, Esq." is notpermissible as it purports to describe the lawyer and does not describe the nature ofthe firm's legal practice.Note: Adopted July 12, 1984, to be effective September 10, 1984; paragraphs (a)and (d) amended, paragraph (e) amended and redesignated as paragraph (f) andnew paragraph (e) added June 29, 1990, to be effective September 4, 1990;paragraph (a) amended January 5, 2009 to be effective immediately; paragraph (e)amended, and Official Comment adopted July 27, 2015 to be effective September1, 2015; caption and paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), and (f) amended September 9,2020 to be effective immediately.

1:21-lA. Professional Corporations for the Practice of Law!fil . no change . no change( } The corporate name of the professional corporation shall comply withthe provisions ofRPC 7.5 [and shall contain only the full or last names of one ormore of its shareholders or members of a predecessor firm, whether theshareholder or member be living, deceased or retired]. Wherever the corporatename of the professional corporation is used it shall be followed by the phrase "Aprofessional corporation," or by any other phrase or abbreviation authorized byN.J.S.A. 14A:17-14 to indicate that it is a professional corporation. When theprofessional corporation is a foreign professional legal corporation, the phrase shallalso identify the state of incorporation (e.g., "A professional corporationincorporated in the State of New York"). The corporate name shall be used on allpleadings, correspondence or other documents. Correspondence, pleadings andother documents executed in connection with the practice of law shall be executedon behalf of the corporation by one of its attorney employees. Corporatedocuments executed other than in connection with the practice of law may beexecuted on behalf of the corporation by an authorized employee who is notlicensed to practice law.@ . no change

ill . no changeill . no changeNote: Adopted December 16, 1969 effective immediately; paragraph (a) amendedJuly 7, 1971 to be effective September 13, 1971; paragraph (c) amended June 29,1973 to be effective September 10, 1973; paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e)amended and paragraph (f) adopted July16, 1981 to be effective September 14,1981; paragraph (c) amended January 16, 1984 to be effective immediately;paragraph (c) amended July 14, 1992 to be effective September 1, 1992; paragraph(d) amended July 13, 1994 to be effective September 1, 1994; paragraph (a)amended December 9, 1994 to be effective January 2, 1995; paragraphs (a), (b),(c), (e), and (f) amended April 30, 1996 to be effective immediately; paragraph {c)amended September 9, 2020 to be effective immediately.

1:21-lB. Limited Liability Companies for the Practice of Law.(ru . no changeill . no change1 } The name of the limited liability company shall comply with theprovisions of RPC 7.5 [and shall contain only the full or last names of one or moreof its present members, or one or more of the members, partners, or shareholders ofa predecessor firm, whether living, deceased or retired]. Wherever the name of thelimited liability company is used it shall be followed by the phrase "A limitedliability company," or by any other phrase or abbreviation authorized by N.J.S.A.42:2B-3 to indicate that it is a limited liability company. In the case of a foreignlimited liability company, the phrase shall also identify the jurisdiction offormation (e.g., "A limited liability company formed in the State of New York").The limited liability company name shall be used on all pleadings, correspondenceor other documents. Correspondence, pleadings and other documents executed inconnection with the practice of law shall be executed on behalf of the limitedliability company by one of its members, employees, agents or representatives whois an attorney licensed to practice law. Limited liability company documentsexecuted other than in connection with the practice of law may be executed onbehalf of the limited liability company by an authorized employee who is notlicensed to practice law.

@ . no change@ . no change(f) . no changeNote: Adopted November 18, 1996 to be effective January 1, 1997; paragraph {c)amended September 9 2020 to be effective immediately.

1:21-1 C. Limited Liability Partnerships for the Practice of Law!fil . no changeill -. no change( } The name of the limited liability partnership shall comply with theprovisions of RPC 7.5 [and shall contain only the full or last names of one or moreof its partners or partners of a predecessor firm, whether the partner be living,deceased or retired]. Wherever the name of the limited liability partnership is usedit shall be followed by the phrase "A limited liability partnership," or by any otherphrase or abbreviation authorized by N.J.S.A. 42:lA-48 to indicate that it is alimited liability partnership. In the case of a foreign limited liability partnership,the phrase shall also identify the jurisdiction of formation (e.g., "A limited liabilitypartnership formed in the State ofNew York"). The limited liability partnershipname shall be used on all pleadings, correspondence or other documents.Correspondence, pleadings and other documents executed in connection with thepractice of law shall be executed on behalf of the limited liability partnership byone of its attorney partners or employees. Partnership documents executed otherthan in connection with the practice of law may be executed on behalf of thelimited liability partnership by an authorized employee who is not licensed topractice law.(d) . no change

Note: Adopted November 18, 1996 to be effective January 1, 1997; paragraphs(a)(l) and (c) amended July 28, 2004 to be effective September 1, 2004; paragraph(c) amended September 9, 2020 to be effective immediately.2

LAW FIRM NAMES - AMENDMENTS TO RPC 7.5 AND COURT RULES 1:21-1A, 1:21-1B, AND 1:21-1C The Supreme Court has adopted amendments to Rule of Professional Conduct 7.5 ("Law Firm Names and Letterheads") so as to remove the requirement that the law firm name include the name of a lawyer and describe the nature of the firm's legal practice.

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