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Why don’t I use a cool trade name for my services providing Texas NFA gun trusts to law-abiding Texas residents? The short answer is that I am a licensed Texas attorney providing professional legal services. Practicing law under a trade name in Texas violates Rule 7.01 of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, which govern the professional conduct of licensed attorneys in Texas.
Rule 7.01(a) provides that:
A lawyer in private practice shall not practice under a trade name, a name that is misleading as to the identity of the lawyer or lawyers practicing under such name, or a firm name containing names other than those of one or more of the lawyers in the firm, except that the names of a professional corporation, professional association, limited liability partnership, or professional limited liability company may contain “P.C.,” “P.A.,” “L.L.P.,” “P.L.L.C.,” or similar symbols indicating the nature of the organization, and if otherwise lawful a firm may use as, or continue to include in, its name the name or names of one or more deceased or retired members of the firm or of a predecessor firm in a continuing line of succession. Nothing herein shall prohibit a married woman from practicing under her maiden name.
Tex. Disciplinary Rules Prof’l Conduct 7.01(a), reprinted in Tex. Gov’t Code Ann., tit. 2, subtit. G., app. A (West 2005) (Tex. State Bar R. art. X, § 9) (emphasis added).
Moreover, the comments to Rule 7.01 state that a “lawyer or law firm may not practice law using a name that is misleading as to the identity of the lawyers practicing under such name…. Trade names are generally considered inherently misleading.” Id. cmt. 1 (emphasis added).
Since Rule 7.01(a) forbids Texas attorneys from practicing law under a trade or fictitious name, Rule 7.01(e) provides that Texas attorneys cannot “advertise in the public media or seek professional employment by any communication under a trade or fictitious name.” Id. R. 7.01(e), cmt. 4. Further, Rule 7.01(f) provides that a Texas “lawyer shall not use a firm name, letterhead, or other professional designation that violates Rule 7.02(a).”