Now Law: Vainieri Huttle, Johnson & Downey Bill to Allow Professionals to Practice Under Chosen Name

In order to prevent confusion and financial challenges associated with an individual having to practice under their new legal name, a bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Gordon Johnson and Joann Downey to allow licensed professionals to continue operating under their original name even if their name has legally changed was signed into law Tuesday.

Currently, licensed professionals are only allowed to practice under their legal name and therefore must go through the process of updating their license or certificate and other business materials if they choose to legally change their name. This disproportionately affects women, who are more likely to change their last names as a result of marriage.

The law (formerly bill A-2308/S-3145) updates this policy by requiring applications for professional/occupational licenses and certificates to include lines for both the practitioner’s legal name and professional name, if different from one another. The applicant will then be allowed to choose which name will appear on their license or certificate.

Upon the legislation becoming law, Assembly sponsors Vainieri Huttle, Johnson (both D-Bergen) and Downey (D-Monmouth) released the following joint statement:

“Requiring professionals to practice under their legal name rather than their preferred name poses an undue burden on many New Jerseyans. Not only does it force them to undergo the arduous process of obtaining a new license or certificate, but it also forces them to have to spend even more money on updating their business’ website, advertising and marketing to reflect the name change.

“Altering the name associated with their practice could also confuse clients who only know of the practitioner as their original name.

“This issue impacts women the most, since more than 70 percent of women who get married choose to change their last names. Women must be given the option to keep practicing under their maiden name in order to avoid any unnecessary confusion, expense or hassle they would otherwise encounter.” 

The law will take effect on the first day of the sixth month following its enactment.