Let me proclaim here and now, for the record, that I’m the founding partner in a law firm, The Law Offices of Carolyn Elefant. Yes, it’s a law firm of one and I’m the only partner, but my firm is just as legitimate and real as any of these. So why is it then, that the DC Bar feels it necessary to issue a special opinion (Opinion 332 – November 2005) warning me and every other solo that while it’s alright for us to refer to our law practice as a firm without violating the Rules of Professional Conduct, at the same time, “[we] must exercise caution to insure that the manner in which [we] conduct [our] practices does not mislead clients or potential clients.” (for a summary, see this article, Washington Lawyer (Dec. 2005).
I guess I should be grateful for the decision, since it doesn’t outlaw solos from referring to ourselves as law firms. At the same time, just once, I’d love to see a decision, cautioning large firms about deceptive practices when they promise to deliver expertise and years of experience to a matter and then assign newbie associates to handle it. Or what about large firms that shorten their names so that they sound smaller and more congenial than they actually are? Until that happens, I’ll continue to endure this and all the other silly little indignities that the Bars dispense to us solos whenever they have time on their hand. Those indignities after all are but a small price to pay for all the benefits that go with being a law firm of one.