Lawyers may not state or imply that they practice in a partnership or other organization if that is not in fact true. See Rule 7.5. Applying this rule, it is clear that a law firm name may not include the name of an associate, of counsel, or contract attorney. But what about inclusion of non-equity partners in a law firm name?
Whether a non-equity partner is a true partner is a topic of some debate. While Georgia has not directly addressed the issue, other jurisdictions have in some cases held that non-equity partners are firm employees and in other cases that they are full-fledged partners. In Georgia, a “partnership” is “an association of two or more persons to carry on as co-owners a business for profit.” Case law has enumerated various factors that indicate the existence of a partnership. Those factors “include a common enterprise, the sharing of risk, the sharing of expenses, the sharing of profits and losses, a joint right of control over the business, and a joint ownership of capital.” Ultimately, if enough factors are present to suggest a non-equity partner is a partner, then the non-equity partner’s name may be used in the law firm name.
 S.C. Adv. Op. 85-12 (1985)(“A sole practitioner who hires an associate cannot include the associate’s name in the firm name because the relationship between them is not that of a partnership.”); Pa. Eth. Op. 90-171 (1990)(including name of non-shareholder associate in firm name would be misleading because it would suggest that “the non-shareholder attorney has some interest in the professional corporation when no such interest exists.”).