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Are You the 'Law Office Of' or 'Law Offices Of'?

By William Peacock, Esq. | Last updated on

Yesterday, my fellow FindLaw blawgger Marky Mark wrote about Maverick Ray, a lawyer who was hired to represent a capital murder defendant despite having only a few months' experience. That's still happening, apparently, because the client has a Sixth Amendment right to hire whomever the hell he damn well pleases, and besides: Whatever, bro -- the "Top Gun Lawyer" can bang out a cap. case like that.

While we were all sitting around mocking the self-proclaimed "Assassin of Suppression," someone stumbled upon Mark Bennett's point that Ray calls his firm "The Law Offices of Maverick Ray," despite only having one office.

Can you do that, or will the state bar bench-slap you?

Remember the Photoshop Lady?

I would've never imagined how far a state bar was willing to go in pressing false advertising claims against terribly made lawyer websites until I read that Photoshop case from last month. The case involved an attorney whose website has a bunch of clearly (and terribly) Photoshopped images of herself with celebs. After many warnings, and a lot of hilarity, she got suspended.

Other Nitpicky Rules

The baseline rule, per the ABA's Model Rule 7.1, is that a lawyer "shall not make a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer's services." So, dropping the plural "offices" when you only have one location might fall under that broad rule.

And other rules and opinions hint that the bar might care more than you'd think about your nom de plume practice: Model Rule 7.5 (Firm Names and Letterheads) says not to use deceptive names that "imply a connection with a government agency or with a public or charitable legal services organization," and also warns against saying that you are in a partnership or other organization when you aren't.

How far does the nitpicky rabbit hole go? Ethics opinions even warn against using "and Associates" when you have no associates.

Just Lawyer 'Em, Bro

So would the bar really care if you said "Law Offices" when you only have a singular office? Maybe.

But hell, maybe you have a home office. Maybe there are multiple independent rooms in your one bigger law office, each of which counts as an office. It's a nitpicky point, albeit a humorous one. For what it's worth, Googling "law offices or law office" turns up a number of firms that have one location but use the plural form.

In short: You can probably argue with the bar long enough to change your letterhead.

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