Dec 2012 Arizona AttorneyWhat’s in a name? Shakespeare wondered. And a wise Arizona lawyer pondered the same question as she considered the state of law firm trade names. Through December 31, those marketing terms are a no-no. But after January 1, it’s another story.

Before it passes by your desk unnoticed, I wanted to point out our cover story in the current Arizona Attorney Magazine. It was written by Patricia Sallen, who is the ethics counsel for the State Bar of Arizona. (Pat’s also the Bar’s Director of Special Services and Ethics, as well as the Deputy General Counsel, but who can keep track?)

Her blissfully concise article is worth a read (see the entire piece here). Here’s how she opens it, with a few famous lines from the Bard:

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet.”

“And that which we call a law firm? Will a colorful and creative law-firm name smell as sweet as a lawyer’s plain name?

“Maybe Shakespeare had the answer, as Juliet continues in her famous dialogue from Romeo and Juliet:

“So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,

Retain that dear perfection which he owes

Without that title.”

“Beginning in 2013, Arizona will see if law-firm names retain that ‘dear’—perhaps even quaint—’perfection’ now that they can be something other than lawyers’ names.

“The state that begat lawyer advertising (remember Bates v. State Bar of Arizona?) will, effective January 1, finally join the vast majority of U.S. jurisdictions and allow private law firms to use trade names. Arizona’s Ethical Rule 7.5(a) will mirror the American Bar Association’s Model Rule 7.5(a).”

The rule change occurred after a comment period that allowed folks to weigh in on both sides. How do you think the rule change will affect law practice?

Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

And here are a few humorous lawyer-branding images, via this website.

law firm trade name drive-thru

law firm trade name shark


[i] 433 U.S. 350 (1977).

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