Legal Ethics Opinion 1492

  Advertising and Solicitation-Letterhead: Use of "Attorneys at
Law" by sole Practitioner

You have presented a hypothetical situation in which a sole
practitioner wishes to use the phrase "Attorneys at Law" on his

You have asked the committee to opine whether, under the facts of
the inquiry, it is proper for the sole practitioner to use that
phrase.  You also ask whether the propriety would be impacted by
the fact that the sole practitioner associates with other
attorneys in other areas of practice and jurisdictions on
appropriate cases. 

The appropriate and controlling Disciplinary Rule related to your
inquiry is DR 2-102(A) which provides that a lawyer may use or
participate in the use of a professional notice or device unless
it contains a statement or claim that is false, fraudulent,
misleading, or deceptive.  Also of some relevance to your inquiry
is DR 2-l02(C) which prohibits a lawyer from holding himself out
as having a partnership with one or more other lawyers unless
they are in fact partners.  Further guidance is available in
Ethical Consideration 2-l3 which directs, in pertinent part, that
"[t]he use of a [firm] name which could mislead laypersons
concerning the identity, responsibility, and status of those
practicing thereunder is not proper".  [emphasis added]

The committee believes that the use of "Attorneys at Law" by a
sole practitioner is misleading and thus, violative of DR
2-102(A).  The committee is of the view that the use of such
phrase gives the impression that there is more than one attorney
in the practice available for the provision of legal services to
clients.  The use, then, may also be violative of DR 2-102(C),
since the sole practitioner may be perceived to be holding
himself out as having a partnership with one or more lawyer when,
in fact, he does not.  The committee is of the view that the
variation on your inquiry, i.e., the association of attorney in
other areas or jurisdictions on appropriate cases, is immaterial
to the conclusions reached since such association would be
sporadic rather than a onship.

Committee Opinion
October 19, 1992