Nine states have banned the use of trade names by law firms, and this is not sitting well with LawHQ, a law firm in Salt Lake City, Utah. As a result, they have taken action by filing lawsuits against bar officials in each of the nine states.
Thomas Alvord, the firm’s Managing Partner and CEO, claims that banning the use of trade names by law firms is unconstitutional, a violation of the First Amendment, specifically in the restriction of commercial speech.
The nine states currently have a requirement for a law firm name to include one or more partner’s names. This requirement is outdated, believes LawHQ, and is a disadvantage to law firms. A trade name can distinguish a specialty, and by restricting law firms in this way, LawHQ states their First Amendment rights are being violated.
In a January 24, 2020 press release, the law firm reveals that after attempts to discuss the issue with authorities in each state met with no success, LawHQ made their decision to sue.
According to ABA Journal, these federal lawsuits have been filed against the state bar associations in New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Ohio, Indiana, Nebraska, Texas, Georgia, and Mississippi. In them, LawHQ argues that the language in the ABA Model Rules of Conduct only bans “false and misleading communications.” which is, according to the firm, not happening here. Instead, they are focused on building something easy for the public to remember and also building a brand.
In addition, the lawsuits include a comparison of the naming of law firms to the naming of large corporations such as Apple and Amazon. Consumer protection, states LawHQ, would not be benefited by requiring such companies to use the names of the company founders, such as Jobs & Wozniak, or Zuckerberg & Associates. Therefore, why should law firms be restricted in such a manner?
Billing itself as a forward-thinking “lawtech” firm, LawHQ provides legal services against alleged spammers and offers their own app, called CallerHQ, where consumers can report spam they receive by way of calls, emails, and text messages. The firm plans to open offices in all 50 states by the end of 2020.