Business of Law

That's Not His Name in Our Name, Law Firm Says of Ex-Partner's Suit

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In an attempt to force a Detroit law firm to change its name, a former shareholder filed suit against Charfoos & Christensen last week. Now that he has moved to Charfoos Giovan & Birach, potential clients could be confused by the name duplication, he contends.

But the suit by Lawrence Charfoos lacks a legal basis, the head of the Christensen firm tells the ABA Journal today, because Lawrence Charfoos was never a name partner of Charfoos & Christensen. It was his father, Samuel Charfoos, who was a founder of the firm in 1929 and remained a shareholder there until his death in 1995, says managing shareholder J. Douglas Peters. After the death of Samuel Charfoos, the firm continued to use his name, as is commonly done.

Meanwhile, Lawrence Charfoos also was a shareholder in the firm until 1991, but has not been a shareholder since that time although he continued to work at the firm, Peters says. He also contends that Lawrence Charfoos should have pursued the name issue in as an attorney disciplinary matter if he thought there was a basis to do so rather than in court, and he characterizes the Michigan state-court suit as a publicity stunt.

“We will continue to use the name Charfoos & Christensen, and we trust that we will be vindicated in our use in whatever forum he intends to present the issue,” Peters tells the Journal.

The Oakland County Circuit Court suit filed Friday by 73-year-old Lawrence Charfoos alleges breach of contract and unjust enrichment, reports Crain’s Detroit Business (sub. req.).

“If they are still using the name from his father, that’s news to Mr. Charfoos, based on the records we’re presenting in this case,” his attorney, Marvin Shwedel, tells the business publication. He practices with Faintuck Shwedel & Wolfram.

Earlier coverage: “Ex-Partner Suit: Two Firms Using My Name Is One Too Many”

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