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Feb. 16, 2010
Grievances & Discipline Board Releases Advisory Opinion

The Supreme Court of Ohio’s Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline has issued an advisory opinion concerning the inclusion of an area of practice or specialization in a law firm name.

Opinion 2010-1 addresses the following question: “Is it proper for a lawyer to name a law firm the lawyer’s surname followed by the words Intellectual Property or the initials IP as an abbreviation for intellectual property?”

The opinion finds that naming a law firm in this way is improper. Professional Conduct and Supreme Court rules “do not authorize the inclusion of an area of practice or specialization in a law firm name and Prof. Cond. Rule 7.5 specifically does not allow a trade name,” the opinion states.

The opinion also noted that Supreme Court rules require that the name of a law firm formed under a corporate structure must include the “proper descriptive designation required by law such as LLC or LLP.”

Advisory Opinions of the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline are informal, nonbinding opinions in response to prospective or hypothetical questions regarding the application of the Supreme Court Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio, the Supreme Court Rules for the Government of the Judiciary, the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct, the Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct, and the Attorney’s Oath of Office.

Contact: Jon Marshall at 614.387.9370 or Chris Davey at 614.387.9250.

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