Following is the 62nd post in a series from Parker Taylor Law Group about recent changes to the California Bar Association (CBA)’s Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC). This rule is found in Chapter 7 – “Information About Legal Services,” focusing on restrictions placed upon firm names and trade names.
This Rule of Professional Conduct, as revised, is as follows:
Rule 7.5 Firm Names and Trade Names
(a) A lawyer shall not use a firm name, trade name or other professional designation that violates rule 7.1.
(b) A lawyer in private practice shall not use a firm name, trade name or other professional designation that states or implies a relationship with a government agency or with a public or charitable legal services organization, or otherwise violates rule 7.1.
(c) A lawyer shall not state or imply that the lawyer practices in or has a professional relationship with a law firm or other organization unless that is the fact.
Although the cross-reference chart comparing the CBA’s previous set of RPC rules to the current ones (effective as of November 1, 2018) says that Rule 7.5 in the revised RPC corresponds to Rule 1-400 in the old version, the information in this revised rule does not appear in the old rule at all. The new rule simply states that an attorney in private practice shall not – through the name of their firm or trade – imply a relationship with a government agency or charitable legal services foundation, nor shall the attorney imply that he or she has a professional relationship with a law firm or other organization … unless that is actually true.
As with Rule 7.4 of CBA’s revised RPC (discussed in the previous post), Rule 7.5 also doesn’t correspond to any rules in the American Bar Association (ABA)’s Model RPC. According to the ABA’s website (www.americanbar.org/groups/professional_responsibility/publications/model_rules_of_professional_conduct), this rule has been deleted.
Benefit: Generally speaking, the purpose of this rule is simple and straightforward, reducing the likelihood of any misunderstandings about this important area of business.
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