Legal Ethics Opinion #1532

             Advertising: Law Office Associate Status

You have presented a hypothetical situation in which a firm
wishes to use the term "and Associates" to describe the following
relationship.  The associate (junior) attorney works in the same
offices, represents the firm in cases, and is disclosed on the
retainer agreement.  The associate's hours are billed through the
firm, and the associate is paid on a per-case basis by the firm. 
The associate also has his own cases which are not related to the
firm's work.  The principal of the firm and associate have
separate malpractice policies.  The associate pays rent for an
office and also works part-time for the firm. 

You have asked the committee to opine whether, under the facts of
the inquiry, it is proper for the firm to use "and Associates" in
its identification.  You also ask what circumstances define an
associate position.

The appropriate and controlling Disciplinary Rule related to your
inquiry is DR 2-102(A), which states that a lawyer or law firm
may use or participate in the use of a professional card,
professional announcement card, office sign, letterhead,
telephone directory listing, law list, legal directory listing,
or a similar professional notice or device unless it includes a
statement or claim that is false, fraudulent, misleading or

Since the junior attorney is employed part-time by the firm and
represents the firm in cases, the committee believes that the
attorney may properly be termed an "associate".  Also, under the
facts you have posited, the committee believes that the
arrangement described goes beyond that of office sharing.  See EC
2-15.  Under the facts you have presented, the committee is of
the opinion, however, that it is improper for the firm to use the
term "and Associates" in its identification unless the principal
attorney employs at least two lawyers.  See LEO #1492.

As for a definition of "associate", the committee adopts the
meaning given to the term in ABA Formal Opinion #330 (August
1972) which recognizes the word as describing a lawyer employee
of a firm.  See also In re Sussman, 405 P. 2d 355 (1965). 
Further, the opinion added that the term may be used to describe
"a situation in which the firm or the individual [lawyer] has
other lawyers working for them or him who are not partners and
who do not generally share in the responsibility and liability
for the acts of the firm".  See also ABA Opinion 310 (1941);
Chicago Bar Association Legal Ethics Opinion, ABA/BNA Law. Man.
on Prof. Conduct, 801:3201.
Committee Opinion
May 11, 1993