Firm Names And Letterheads
(a) A lawyer or law firm may use or participate in the use of a professional card, professional announcement card, office sign, letterheads, telephone directory listing, law list, legal directory listing, website, or a similar professional notice or device unless it includes a statement or claim that is false, fraudulent, misleading, or deceptive. 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 is not otherwise in violation of Rule 7.1 and 7.2.
(b) A law firm 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 on its letterhead and in other permissible listings make clear the jurisdictional limitations of 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.
(c) The name of a lawyer holding a public office shall not be used in the name of a law firm, or in communications on its behalf, during any substantial period in which the lawyer is not actively and regularly practicing with the firm.
(d) Lawyers may state or imply that they practice in a partnership or other organization only when that is the fact.
 A firm may be designated by the names of all or some of its members, by the names of deceased members where there has been a continuing succession in the firm’s identity or by a trade name such as the “ABC Legal Clinic.” A lawyer or law firm may also be designated by a distinctive website address or comparable professional designation. Although the Supreme Court of the United States has held that legislation may prohibit the use of trade names in professional practice, use of such names in law practice is acceptable so long as it is not misleading. If a private firm uses a trade name that includes a geographical name such as “Springfield Legal Clinic,” an express disclaimer that it is a public legal aid agency may be required to avoid a misleading implication. It may be observed that any firm name including the name of a retired or deceased partner is, strictly speaking, a trade name. The use of such names to designate law firms has proven a useful means of identification. For many years some law firms have used a firm name retaining one or more names of deceased or retired partners and such practice is not improper if the firm is a bona fide successor of a firm in which the deceased or retired person was a member, if the use of the name is authorized by law or by contract, and if the public is not misled thereby. However, the name of a partner who withdraws from a firm but continues to practice law should be omitted from the firm name in order to avoid misleading the public.
 With regard to paragraph (d), lawyers sharing office facilities, but who are not in fact partners, may not denominate themselves as, for example, "Smith and Jones," for that title suggests partnership in the practice of law.
Virginia Code Comparison
Paragraphs (a) and (c) are substantially similar to DR 2-102(A) and (B).
Paragraph (b) is identical to DR 2-102(D).
Paragraph (d) is substantially similar to DR 2-102(C), which stated that "a lawyer shall not hold himself out as having a partnership with one or more other lawyers unless they are in fact partners."
As with Rule 7.4, there was no substantive difference between ABA Model Rule 7.5 and the corresponding Disciplinary Rule. Accordingly, the Committee modified the language of the ABA Model Rule where necessary to bring ABA Model Rule 7.5 more in line with DR 2-102.
The amendments effective November 1, 2002, in subparagraph (a), the first sentence, inserted the word “website” and in last sentence, inserted “and 7.2” following “Rule 7.1”; in Comment , added the present second sentence.
The amendments effective June 30, 2005, in Comment , the fifth sentence, inserted “retired or,” deleted the last sentence which stated “However, it is misleading to use the name of a lawyer not associated with the firm or a predecessor of the firm,” and added the present seventh and eighth sentences.
Updated: November 29, 2012