Ohio Rule of Professional Conduct Rule 7.5 requires that “A lawyer shall not use a firm name, letterhead or other professional designation that violates Rule 7.1.” It further specifies that “A lawyer in private practice shall not practice under a trade name, a name that is misleading as to the identity of the lawyer or lawyers practicing under the name, or a firm name containing names of other than those of one or more of the lawyers in the firm, except that the name of a professional corporation or association, legal clinic, limited liability company, or registered partnership shall contain symbols indicating the nature of the organization as required by Gov. Bar R. III.”
While OBLIC certainly is not the “ethics police,” our Underwriters often encounter firm names and letterheads that arguably fall short of this rule. You may receive a call from our Director of Loss Prevention to discuss this. Briefly, your firm name should reflect the attorney(s) in the firm or if otherwise lawful, the name(s) of one or more deceased or retired members of the firm or predecessor firm, as specified later in Rule 7.5. If your firm is a professional corporation or association, legal clinic, limited liability company, or registered partnership, the appropriate symbols must be included in the firm name, such as Co LPA, PA, LLC. The firm name should be consistent on signage and letterhead. If you are not sure how your firm is designated, you may want to check the website for the Ohio Secretary of State. OBLIC provides this information as loss prevention. References are to the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct and do not set or alter any professional standards or constitute legal advice on this topic.