Editor's Note: Reference to DR 2-182(B) is error. By Supreme Court order is DR 2-102(C).
PARTNERSHIP- Partnership with out-of-state lawyer is authorized under certain conditions.
The Ethics Committee of the Mississippi State Bar Association has been asked to render an opinion on the following facts or situation:
Lawyer X is authorized to practice law in the States of Mississippi and Louisiana. He desires to become associated with Lawyer Y who practices solely in the State of Louisiana. They desire that their letterhead reflect such an association, clearly showing that Lawyer X is licensed to practice in the State of Louisiana and Mississippi, and Lawyer Y is licensed to practice only in Louisiana. Lawyer X wishes to know if it is proper to do this so long as the letterhead clearly reflects who is licensed to practice where.
The Committee is of the opinion that Lawyers X and Y may properly engage in this relationship provided certain guidelines are met. Attention is directed to DR2-182(B) which states:
A partnership shall not be formed or continued between or among lawyers licensed in different jurisdictions unless all enumerations of the members and associates of the firm are on its letterhead and in other permissible listings make clear the jurisdictional limitations on those members and associates of the firm not licensed to practice in all listed jurisdictions; however, the same firm name may be used in each jurisdiction.
Formal Opinion No. 316, American Bar Association, states specifically:
Of course, only the individuals permitted by the laws of their respective states to practice law there would be permitted to do the acts defined by the state as the practice of law in that state, but there are no ethical barriers to carrying on the practice by such a firm in each state so long as the particular person admitted in that state is the person who, on behalf of the firm, vouches for the work of all the others and with the client in the courts, did the legal acts defined by that state as the practice of law.
Formal Opinion No. 115, American Bar Association, has emphasized that the public must be apprised of the exact nature of affiliation, and each lawyer involved must carefully avoid any deception or misrepresentation. Lawyers X and Y are cautioned to disclose the exact nature of their association.
As a cautionary matter, Lawyer X and Y's attention is directed to Disciplinary Rule 2- 102(C), which prohibits representations to the public that a partnership exists unless such a relationship exists in fact. In this instance, if the proposed association is not structured as a partnership or other association permitted under the disciplinary rules, but is only on a case by case association, the committee is of the opinion that the use of a letterhead which conveyed the existence of a regular partnership association would violate the dictates of DR2-102(C).