New York court system’s admin board lifts ban on law firm trade names
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The New York court system’s administrative board has lifted the ban on law firms advertising their services under trade or domain names.
The revised rule instead bans names that are false, deceptive or misleading, according to a June 18 press release and coverage by Law360.
Many other states also allow trade names for law firms.
The old ban in Rule 7.5 of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct was intended to prevent the public from being misled. But it was “based on outdated professionalism standards, spurring a First Amendment challenge that further argued that the rule was overbroad,” according to the press release.
A special section of the revised rule says only “bona fide legal assistance organizations” can use terms such as “legal clinic” and “defender office,” according to Law360. The section also provides guidance on other acceptable names.
In another rule change, legal services organizations and pro bono attorneys in New York are now allowed to provide financial help to low-income clients, report the New York Law Journal and Law360. The rule change was sought because lawyers wanted to provide help to clients hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Loans or other assistance that causes the client to be “financially beholden” to the lawyer are banned, however.