May 18, 1989
As long as the advertising is not false, fraudulent, deceptive or misleading, a lawyer's name need not be included in advertisements of legal services under a trade name.
References: MRPC 7.1, 7.5. C-231 and CI-357 are superseded; CI-343, CI-405, CI-454, and CI-852 are superseded to the extent inconsistent with this opinion.
A lawyer who has a Michigan professional corporation and advertises under a trade name asks whether it is ethically required that the lawyer's name appear in the ad.
C-231, CI-343, CI-357, CI-405, CI-454, and CI-852, all decided under the former Michigan Code of Professional Responsibility, require the name of the lawyer responsible for the actions of the group to appear in advertising under a trade name. The Committee is now asked for a determination under the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct and relevant case law.
MRPC 7.5 states in part:
"A trade name may be used by a lawyer in private practice if it does not imply a connection with a government agency or with a public or charitable legal services organization, and it is not otherwise in violation of Rule 7.1."
MRPC 7.1 states in part:
"A lawyer may, on the lawyer's own behalf, on behalf of a partner or associate, or on behalf of any other lawyer affiliated with the lawyer or the lawyer's law firm, use or participate in the use of any form of public communication that is not false, fraudulent, misleading or deceptive."
The American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct contain provision 7.2(d) which states:
"(d) Any communication made pursuant to this rule shall include the name of at least one lawyer responsible for its content."
The ABA provision was included in the proposed Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct recommended to the Michigan Supreme Court by the Representative Assembly. However, when the Court issued its order implementing the Rules, proposed MRPC 7.2(d) had been deleted. The Committee interprets this action to mean that although it is constitutionally permissible to require in an ad advertising a trade name inclusion of a lawyer responsible, our Court has chosen not to do so.
Therefore, absent a violation of MRPC 7.1 or 7.5, the name of a lawyer responsible for the actions of the group is not required when lawyers advertise under a trade name.