According to a recent decision by the New York second circuit in J. Michael Hayes v. State of New York Attorney Grievance Committee of the Eighth Judicial District, attorneys who specify that they are certified in a particular field no longer have to include certain disclaimers.
New York Rules on Law Firm Marketing
Under Rule 7.4 of the New York Code of Professional Responsibility, attorneys who listed certification by a private organization in a particular specialty were previously required to post three disclaimers along with advertising the certification. The disclaimers were:
- A statement that the certifying organization wasn’t affiliated with any government organization
- A statement that certification wasn’t required to practice law within New York State
- A statement indicating that certification doesn’t necessarily mean that the lawyer is more competent than any other attorney with experience in the field.
The Second Circuit struck down both the second and third disclaimers, indicating that attorneys who list their certification must now only include the statement relating to the fact that the certifying organization was not affiliated with the government.
The second disclaimer was struck down on the premise that it could create more misunderstandings than if it did not exist, since it was unlikely the public would believe certification was required to practice law. The third disclaimer was struck down because it is reasonable to assume that certification could indicate greater competence.
Attorneys in New York may now list their certification without the need for these additional disclaimers in their law firm marketing material, allowing for the certification to be even more of a potential boon in attracting clients through legal marketing.