Professional Ethics Committee for the State Bar of Texas
“Under the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct may a lawyer, who is licensed to practice law in Texas and in North Carolina, practice law in North Carolina, without soliciting or representing persons in Texas, under a law firm name that is not permitted under the Texas Disciplinary Rules but that is permitted under the applicable rules of North Carolina law governing the practice of law in North Carolina?”
The Committee assumes that the trade name in question (“CityX Law Group”) — which is forbidden in Texas under Rule 7.01 (prohibition confirmed by case law Ethics Committee Opinions. Rodgers v. Commission for Lawyer Discipline, 151 S.W.3d 602, 610-11 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 2004, pet. denied); Commission for Lawyer Discipline v. C.R., 54 S.W.3d 506, 515-16 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 2001, pet. denied); Professional Ethics Committee Opinion 529 (April 1999); and Professional Ethics Committee Opinion 398 (November 1978)) — is permitted under North Carolina law.
Particularly important in the reasoning of the Committee is Rule 8.05(a) providing:
“(a) A lawyer is subject to the disciplinary authority of this state, if admitted to practice in this state or if specially admitted by a court of this state for a particular proceeding. In addition to being answerable for his or her conduct occurring in this state, any such lawyer also may be disciplined here for conduct occurring in another jurisdiction or resulting in lawyer discipline in another jurisdiction, if it is professional misconduct under Rule 8.04.”
and Comments 3 and 4 to Rule 8.05:
“3. If the rules of professional conduct of this state and…[another] jurisdiction differ, principles of conflict of laws may apply. Similar problems can arise when a lawyer is licensed to practice in more than one jurisdiction and these jurisdictions impose conflicting obligations…In such cases, this state will not impose discipline for conduct arising in connection with the practice of law in another jurisdiction or resulting in lawyer discipline in another jurisdiction unless that conduct constitutes professional misconduct under Rule 8.04.
4. Normally, discipline will not be imposed in this state for conduct occurring solely in another jurisdiction or judicial system and authorized by the rules of professional conduct applicable thereto, even if that conduct would violate these Rules.”
Also relevant is the “most significant relationship” standard of Texas law, whose application determines the result that “the state with the most significant relationship to the lawyer’s practice and the names used in that practice is unquestionably the state of North Carolina and that there appears to be no significant relationship between Texas and the name of the law firm.”
Conclusion of the Committee:
“A lawyer licensed to practice law in Texas and in North Carolina does not violate the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct if he practices law in North Carolina, without soliciting or representing persons in Texas, under a law firm name that is not permitted under the Texas Disciplinary Rules but that is permitted under the applicable rules of North Carolina law governing the practice of law in North Carolina.”
Rules: Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct 7.01, 8.05 and Comment 3 and 4
The full text is available at http://www.legalethicstexas.com…