Monday, April 8, 2013
A recent Formal Opinion from North Carolina is summarized based on the below inquiry:
Lawyer would like to put her firm name on a non-state issued license plate to be placed on the front of her automobile. The graphics on the license plate would consist only of the firm name. No other content would appear on the plate. Is Lawyer required to include an office address on the license
No. Rule 7.2(c) provides that any advertisement for legal services must include the “name and office address of at least one lawyer or law firm responsible for [the advertisement’s] content.” The purpose of the rule is to facilitate the identification and location of a responsible lawyer or firm in order to hold that lawyer or firm accountable for the content of the advertisement. However, we conclude that where a gift/promotional item displays only the name or logo of the lawyer or law firm, and the items are used/disseminated by the lawyer or law firm in a manner otherwise permissible under the Rules of Professional Conduct, the gift/promotion item does not have to display an office address.
Examples of such items would include pens, pencils, hats, or coffee mugs bearing the name or logo of a law firm or lawyer. A non-state issued license plate displaying a law firm’s name is also exempt from the address requirement.
When I was a disciplinary counsel, I toyed with the idea of DISBAR vanity plates. I passed because I was concerned about the potential retaliatory damage. (Mike Frisch)