Ethics Opinions

Opinion No. 76-20

Summary: A lawyer practicing in both Massachusetts and California and certified by the California bar as a specialist in taxation may include the following notation on his letterheads and professional cards: "Certified Tax Specialist in California."

Facts: An attorney who is a member of both the Massachusetts bar and the California bar and who has been certified by the California bar as a specialist in taxation asks whether he can indicate his specialization on his letterheads and professional cards in accordance with the rules prescribed by the California bar.

Discussion: DR 2-105(A)(4) permits a lawyer to hold himself out as a specialist if he is certified as such in a particular field of law by the authority having jurisdiction under state law over the subject of specialization of lawyers but only in accordance with the rules prescribed by the certifying authority. We shall assume that the certifying authority in California is one described in DR 2-105(A)(4) and that the lawyer would be entitled to indicate his specialization on letterheads and cards were his practice in California only.
In our opinion, the fact that the same lawyer may practice in one or more other jurisdictions in which he may not be certified as a specialist or in which certification may not be available does not require that the lawyer refrain from indicating on his letterheads and professional cards that he has been certified as a specialist in a particular field, provided that the identity of the certifying jurisdiction is stated. In this case, for example, the lawyer's letterheads and cards should indicate the certification in the following manner: "Certified Tax Specialist in California" Cf. DR 2-102(D) wherein partnerships composed of lawyers licensed in different jurisdictions are required to make clear the jurisdictional limitations on those lawyers not licensed to practice in all jurisdictions in which the firm practices.


Permission to publish granted by the Board of Delegates, 1976. As stated in the Rules of the Committee on Professional Ethics, this advice is that of a committee without official governmental status.
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