Rules of Professional Conduct

7. Information About Legal Services

ER 7.4.     Communication of Fields of Practice

(a) A lawyer may communicate the fact that the lawyer does or does not practice in particular fields of law.  A lawyer shall not state or imply that the lawyer is a specialist except as follows:

(1) a lawyer admitted to engage in patent practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office may use the designation "patent attorney" or a substantially similar designation;
 
 (2) a lawyer engaged in admiralty practice may use the designation "admiralty," "proctor in admiralty" or a substantially similar designation; and
 
 (3) a lawyer certified by the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization or by a national entity that has standards for certification substantially the same as those established by the board may state the area or areas of specialization in which the lawyer is certified.  Prior to stating that the lawyer is a specialist certified by a national entity, the entity must be recognized by the board as having standards for certification substantially the same as those established by the board.  If the national entity has not been recognized by the board, it may make application for recognition by completing an application form provided by the board.

(b) Communications to the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization and its Advisory Commissions relating to an applicant's qualifications for specialization certification shall be absolutely privileged, and no civil action predicated thereon may be instituted or maintained against any evaluator, staff or witness who communicates with or before the Board or its Advisory Commissions.  Members of the Board of Legal Specialization, its Advisory Commission, and others involved in the specialization certification process shall be immune from suit for any conduct in the course of their official duties.

Comment

[1] This Rule permits a lawyer to indicate areas of practice in communications about the lawyer's services; for example, in a telephone directory or other advertising.  If a lawyer practices only in certain fields, or will not accept matters except in such fields, the lawyer is permitted so to indicate.  However, stating that the lawyer is a "specialist" in a particular field is not permitted.  These terms have acquired a secondary meaning implying formal recognition as a specialist.  Hence, use of these terms may be misleading unless the lawyer is certified or recognized in accordance with procedures in the state where the lawyer is licensed to practice. 

[2] Recognition of specialization in patent matters is a matter of long-established policy of the Patent and Trademark Office.  Designation of admiralty practice has a long historical tradition associated with maritime commerce and the federal courts.