Effective May 1, 2013, the Florida Bar’s new rules on attorney advertising took effect. Attorneys that practice in Florida should read the rules in their entirety. See In re: Amendments to the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar – Subchapter 4-7, Lawyer Advertising Rules, 38 Fla. L. Weekly S47 (Fla. Jan. 31, 2013).
The rules governing how attorneys can advertise their services to the public have been renumbered and reorganized. The new rules start at 4-7.11 through 4.7.23. The old rules, Rule 4-7.1 through 4-7.10 will be “vacant” in the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar.
New Florida Bar Rules for Board Certified Attorneys
One important change under the rules applies to attorneys who are “board certified” in a specialty certification program that is accredited by the American Bar Association, but not recognized by the Florida Bar. Under the new rule, the attorney can now disclose that designation in advertisements as long as the ad contains a disclaimer that the certification is not recognized by the Florida Bar.
Florida Bar Rule 4-7.14 was designed to prevent potentially misleading advertisements. Under the new rule, an attorney may now use the terms “board certified,” “specialist” “expert” or variations of those terms when the attorney is certified by an organization accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) to award specialty certification.
Under the previous version, Rule 4-7.2(c)(6) provided that the term “board certified” could not be used unless “the organization’s program [granting certification] has been accredited by The Florida Bar as provided elsewhere in these Rules Regulating The Florida Bar…” For instance, the Florida Board of Legal Specialization and Education (BLSE) may accredit national or third party organizations to certify lawyers in certain practice areas. Those organizations include:
- American Board of Certification, for Business Bankruptcy and Consumer Bankruptcy; and
- National Board of Legal Specialty Certification, for Civil Trial Law, Criminal Law and Family Trial Law.
The national organizations that are recognized by the ABA, but not certified by the Florida Bar include:
- the National College for DUI Defense®, Inc. (NCDD);
- the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC);
- the National Elder Law Foundation;
- the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils; and
- the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys.
This rule change coincides with the launch of Lawyer Legion, a division of Internet LAVA, LLC, in Houston, TX. Lawyer Legion is a new kind of online attorney directory. All listings are 100% free to the attorney. No paid listings are allowed.
Lawyer Legion recently launched the only nationwide directory to properly recognize board certified attorneys in every state program and every national program accredited by the ABA. For Florida attorneys who are board certified, they should claim and complete their profile in our online directory for attorneys.
Our new online attorney directory allows the public to narrow their search to find only board certified specialist in one of many different specialty areas of the law.
Disclosure: Lawyer Legion is not endorsed by, affiliated, or approved by the bar association in any state including the Florida Bar.
The Old Florida Bar Rule for Attorneys Using the Term “Board Certified”
The old rule which has now been vacated is 4-7.2(c)(6) which provided:
(6) Communication of Fields of Practice. 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 “certified,” “board certified,” a “specialist,” or an “expert” except as follows:
(A) Florida Bar Certified Lawyers. Florida Bar Certified Lawyers. A lawyer who complies with the Florida certification plan as set forth in chapter 6, Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, may inform the public and other lawyers of the lawyer’s certified areas of legal practice. Such communications should identify The Florida Bar as the certifying organization and may state that the lawyer is “certified,” “board certified,” a “specialist in (area of certification),” or an “expert in (area certification).”
(B) Lawyers Certified by Organizations Other Than The Florida Bar or Another State Bar. A lawyer certified by an organization other than The Florida Bar or another state bar may inform the public and other lawyers of the lawyer’s certified area(s) of legal practice by stating that the lawyer is “certified,” “board certified,” a “specialist in (area of certification),” or an “expert in (area of certification)” if:
(i) the organization’s program has been accredited by The Florida Bar as provided elsewhere in these Rules Regulating The Florida Bar; and,
(ii) the member includes the full name of the organization in all communications pertaining to such certification.
(C) Certification by Other State Bars. A lawyer certified by another state bar may inform the public and other lawyers of the lawyer’s certified area(s) of legal practice and may state in communications to the public that the lawyer is “certified,” “board certified,” a “specialist in (area of certification),” or an “expert in (area of certification)” if:
(i) the state bar program grants certification on the basis of standards reasonably comparable to the standards of the Florida certification plan as set forth in chapter 6, Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, as determined by The Florida Bar; and,
(ii) the member includes the name of the state bar in all communications pertaining to such certification.