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FORMAL OPINION 1995-3

February 22, 1995

ACTION: FORMAL OPINION

OPINION:

TOPIC: Advertising; letterhead; foreign lawyers.

DIGEST: A lawyer admitted to practice only in a foreign country may be listed as an associate on firm letterhead and in advertisements provided a disclaimer is included to set forth the geographical restrictions on the associate's practice.

CODE: DRs 2-102, 2-102(D).

NOTE: Modifies N.Y. City 884 (1974).

QUESTION

May a person who is admitted to practice law only in a foreign country be listed as an associate in a New York law firm's letterhead and other advertising?

OPINION

In our Formal Opinion No. 884 (1974), we opined that a law firm could not name an associate who was admitted to practice only in a foreign country on the letterhead of a law firm if the firm did not maintain an office in the jurisdiction(s) in which the associate actually was admitted. The rationale underlying this determination was that a recipient of the letterhead could be misled into thinking that the firm in fact did have an office in the jurisdiction in which the associate is admitted, misleading letterheads being generally prohibited under DR 2-102. We rejected the possibility that inclusion on the letterhead of a disclaimer as to the geographical restrictions on the associate's practice could cure whatever ambiguity might exist.

We have reconsidered this aspect of N.Y. City 884 and determined that it should be modified in that respect. Thus, assuming that the lawyer, although not admitted either as a lawyer or foreign legal consultant in New York, may lawfully engage in the practice of law to some extent in New York, a legal question upon which we do not opine, we conclude that it would not be misleading for the name of the associate to be listed on the letterhead of the firm, provided an appropriate disclaimer is included to set forth the jurisdictional limitations on his or her practice, in accordance with DR 2-102(D).

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, and assuming that the associate may lawfully engage in the practice of law to some extent in New York, the question is answered in the affirmative.