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Legal Ethics

May law firms redirect visitors from old to new website after name partner departs? Va. mulls answer

Posted Feb 13, 2014 6:40 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A proposed Virginia ethics opinion would require some additional online information when law firms change their names and create new websites because a name partner has left to start practice elsewhere.

The issue is whether a law firm that acquires a new name because of the partner’s departure may redirect online visitors from its old to new website, the Legal Profession Blog reports.

The proposed opinion (PDF) says ethics rules on misleading communications bar the firm from automatically redirecting visitors to the new website unless some additional information is posted. The redirected visitors must be informed, either by the new website or a page displayed during the redirecting, why the law firm has changed its name and that the former partner continues to practice in a different firm, the proposed opinion says.

Similarly, firms may redirect visitors to the new website with a link on the old website, as long as a notice about the newly named firm includes information that the former partner continues to practice law, the proposed opinion says.

The Virginia State Bar’s Standing Committee on Legal Ethics is seeking comment on the proposed ethics opinion though the end of February, according to this notice.

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