N.C. R. Prof. Cond. 7.5

As amended through December 29, 2023
Rule 7.5 - Firm Names and Letterheads
(a) A lawyer shall not use a firm name, letterhead, or other professional designation that violates Rule 7.1. 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 false or misleading in violation of Rule 7.1. Every trade name used by a law firm shall be registered with the North Carolina State Bar for a determination of whether the name is misleading.
(b) A law firm with offices in more than one jurisdiction may use the same name or other professional designation in each jurisdiction, but identification of the lawyers in an office of the firm shall indicate the jurisdictional limitations on those not licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where the office is located.
(c) A law firm maintaining offices only in North Carolina may not list any person not licensed to practice law in North Carolina as a lawyer affiliated with the firm unless the listing properly identifies the jurisdiction in which the lawyer is licensed and states that the lawyer is not licensed in North Carolina.
(d) 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, whether or not the lawyer is precluded from practicing law.
(e) Lawyers may state or imply that they practice in a partnership or other professional organization only when that is the fact.

N.c. R. Prof. Cond. 7.5

Statutory Authority G. 84-23; Adopted 7/24/1997; Amended 3/1/2003.


[1] A firm may be designated by the names of all or some of its members, by the names of deceased or retired 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. Use of trade names in law practice is acceptable so long as they are not misleading and are otherwise in conformance with the rules and regulations of the State Bar. If a private firm uses a trade name that includes a geographical name such as "Springfield Legal Clinic," an express disclaimer that it is not a public legal aid agency may be required to avoid a misleading implication. A firm name that includes the surname of a deceased or retired partner is, strictly speaking, a trade name. However, the use of such names, as well as designations such as "Law Offices of John Doe," "Smith and Associates," and "Jones Law Firm" are useful means of identification and are permissible without registration with the State Bar. However, it is misleading to use the surname of a lawyer not associated with the firm or a predecessor of the firm. It is also misleading to use a designation such as "Smith and Associates" for a solo practice. The name of a retired partner may be used in the name of a law firm only if the partner has ceased the practice of law.

[2] This rule does not prohibit the employment by a law firm of a lawyer who is licensed to practice in another jurisdiction, but not in North Carolina, provided the lawyer's practice is limited to areas that do not require a North Carolina law license such as immigration law, federal tort claims, military law, and the like. The lawyer's name may be included in the firm letterhead, provided all communications by such lawyer on behalf of the firm indicate the jurisdiction in which the lawyer is licensed as well as the fact that the lawyer is not licensed in North Carolina. If law offices are maintained in another jurisdiction, the law firm is an interstate law firm and must register with the North Carolina State Bar as required by 27 N.C.A.C. 1E, Section .0200.

[3] Nothing in these rules shall be construed to confer the right to practice North Carolina law upon any lawyer not licensed to practice law in North Carolina. See , however , Rule 5.5.

[4] With regard to paragraph (e), lawyers sharing office facilities, but who are not in fact associated with each other in a law firm, may not denominate themselves as, for example, "Smith and Jones," for that title suggests that they are practicing law together in a firm.