Letterhead Listing of Nonlawyers
Opinion rules that nonlawyers may be listed as such on the letterhead of lawyers.
Guideline 9 of the Guidelines for Use of Nonlawyers in Rendering Legal Services which was adopted by the North Carolina State Bar in October of 1986 indicates that a legal assistant may not be included upon the employing lawyer's letterhead. The Paralegal Committee of the North Carolina State Bar is considering proposing an amendment to the guideline which would permit a nonlawyer to be listed on a lawyer's letterhead so long as the listing clearly indicates that the subject individual is a nonlawyer.
Would such listings be consistent with the Rules of Professional Conduct?
Yes. The Rules of Professional Conduct do not prohibit the listing of nonlawyers as nonlawyers on law firm letterhead. Rule 2.3(c) prohibits only the listing of persons not licensed to practice law in North Carolina as attorneys affiliated with the firm. It is, of course, necessary that any communication of a lawyer or law firm be presented in a manner which is not false, deceptive or misleading. See Rule 2.1. To ensure that the public is not led to believe that a nonlawyer is eligible to practice law, the nonlawyer's limited capacity should be clearly set forth on the letterhead.
Would the answer to question 1 be different if the nonlawyer is a disbarred lawyer?