Opinion 88-33
(October 1988)

Your letter of October 4, 1988, was reviewed by the Professional Guidance Committee at its monthly meeting on October 17, 1988. The following constitutes the Committee's formal opinion:

You indicate that you wish to have your business cards inscribed with "Real Estate and Business Law" under your name. However, you are concerned that listing these areas, without qualifying the listing with "concentrating in" or "practice limited to," will in some way imply that you are a specialist in the areas of real estate and business law.

As of April 1, 1988, the Rules of Professional Conduct, as adopted by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, are the ethical guidelines governing attorneys in Pennsylvania. Rule 7.4 provides:

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

The Rule provides for exceptions in the fields of patent and admiralty law.

Rule 7.la also provides:

A lawyer shall not make a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer's services. A communication is false or misleading if it:

(a) contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or omits a fact necessary to make the statement considered as a whole not materially misleading.

The Committee is of the opinion that simply listing the areas of practice on your card, without any further qualification, does not imply that you specialize in these areas. As long as your card falls within the guidelines as delineated in Rule 7.la, i.e., that you do actually practice in the areas of real estate and business law, your proposed business card is acceptable and does not violate any ethical rules.
The Philadelphia Bar Association's Professional Guidance Committee provides, upon request, advice for lawyers facing or anticipating facing ethical dilemmas. Advice is based on the consideration of the facts of the particular inquirer's situation and the Rules of Professional Conduct as promulgated by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The Committee's opinions are advisory only and are based upon the facts set forth. The opinions are not binding upon the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania or any other Court. They carry only such weight as an appropriate reviewing authority may choose to give it.