Listing of Unlicensed Attorney on Letterhead
Opinion rules that a North Carolina firm may not list a lawyer licensed elsewhere, but not in North Carolina, as "of counsel" or as a "consulting attorney."
Law Firm LMN would like to establish a formal relationship with Professor P. Professor P is on the faculty of a law school located in North Carolina. P is a nationally recognized expert in the areas of intellectual property and entertainment law. P is licensed to practice law only in the State of Illinois and does not have imminent plans to become licensed in North Carolina.
Law Firm LMN would like to list Professor P on their letterhead as being "of counsel." If he may not be listed of counsel, then Law Firm LMN would like to list P as a "consulting attorney" in the area of entertainment law.
May Law Firm LMN ethically list P on its letterhead either as being "of counsel" or a "consulting attorney"?
No. To list Professor P on Law Firm LMN's letterhead would be misleading, since P is not an attorney in North Carolina and since he does not maintain an office and practice in any other jurisdiction in which he is licensed. See Rule 2.3. Special expertise in a subject does not authorize a nonlicensed lawyer to be listed on a letterhead. To list a person trained as an attorney and licensed elsewhere, but not in North Carolina, under a designation which would attempt to indicate his legal expertise would inevitably be misleading and imply that he is an attorney in North Carolina.