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Ethics Opinions from the Bar Association of San Francisco


Law firms should distinguish partners from non-partners on stationary and announcements, by spacing, separation bar, or other means, so as to avoid misrepresentation to the public as to answerability and responsibility. [Based on L.A. Opinion 290 and ABA Opinion 310.]


A law firm is sending announcement cards to its clients advising them of a change of address. Is it improper to fail to differentiate on the cards between partners and associates?


Yes, according to an opinion on the subject by the State Bar Committee on Professional Ethics (California State Bar Opinion 1971-27). However, in view of the fact that the cards were already printed, and considering that it is a common practice among law firms in San Francisco not to so differentiate, the inquirer was advised that the cards could be mailed as printed.

All opinions of the Committee are subject to the following disclaimer:
Opinions rendered by the Ethics Committee are an uncompensated service of The Bar Association of San Francisco. Opinions are advisory only, and no liability whatsoever is assumed by the Committee or The Bar Association of San Francisco in rendering such opinions, and the opinions are relied upon at the risk of the user thereof. Opinions of the Committee are not binding in any manner upon the State Bar of California, the Board of Governors, any disciplinary committee, The Bar Association of San Francisco, or the individual members of the Ethics Committee.

In using these opinions you should be aware that subsequent judicial opinions and revised rules of professional conduct may have dealt with the areas covered by these ethics opinions.

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