Following is the 61st post in a series from Parker Law Group about recent changes to the California Bar Association (CBA)’s Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC). This rule is found in Chapter 7 – “Information About Legal Services,” focusing on restrictions placed on attorneys claiming to be certified specialists in specific areas of law and the fact that lawyers ARE allowed to state whether they do or do not practice in certain areas of the law.
This Rule of Professional Conduct, as revised, is as follows:
Rule 7.4 Communication of Fields of Practice and Specialization
(a) A lawyer shall not state that the lawyer is a certified specialist in a particular field of law, unless:
(1) the lawyer is currently certified as a specialist by the Board of Legal Specialization, or any other entity accredited by the State Bar to designate specialists pursuant to standards adopted by the Board of Trustees; and
(2) the name of the certifying organization is clearly identified in the communication.
(b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), a lawyer may communicate the fact that the lawyer does or does not practice in particular fields of law. A lawyer may also communicate that his or her practice specializes in, is limited to, or is concentrated in a particular field of law, subject to the requirements of rule 7.1.
Approximately half of the CBA’s revised Rule 7.4, as set forth above, contains the same content found in the previous version of this rule (1-400 – Advertising and Solicitation). Subd. (a)(1)-(2) of the revised rule – discussing certified specialists – matches subd. (D)(6) of the previous version. But subd. (b) of the new rule – allowing attorneys to say whether or not they practice in or concentrate on particular fields of law – was NOT in the previous version of this rule.
This rule doesn’t correspond to any rules in the American Bar Association (ABA)’s Model RPC. According to the ABA’s website (www.americanbar.org/groups/professional_responsibility/publications/model_rules_of_professional_conduct), this rule has been deleted.
Benefit: By explaining the differences between certified specialization and the specialization or concentration of one’s practice in a particular area of law can, generally speaking, help reduce confusion about the sometimes subtle distinctions between these two concepts.
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Rules of Professional Conduct, California Bar Association, American Bar Association, Legal Malpractice, Legal Advertising, Specialization, Certified Specialist, Parker Law Group, Port Parker