Hello and welcome to this update of my May 19, 2016 Ethics Alert regarding the Florida Bar Board of Governors’ final review of the proposed amendment to Florida Bar Rule 4-7.14 related to claims of specialization and expertise in advertisements. The BOG approved the rule amendment as drafted at its meeting on May 20, 2016 in Palm Beach. The approved amendment is below with the relevant new language in italics:
RULE 4-7.14 POTENTIALLY MISLEADING ADVERTISEMENTS
A lawyer may not engage in potentially misleading advertising. (a) Potentially Misleading Advertisements. Potentially misleading advertisements include, but are not limited to:
(4) a statement that a lawyer is board certified or other variations of those terms unless:
(D) the lawyer’s experience and training demonstrate specialized competence in the advertised area of practice that is reasonably comparable to that demonstrated by the standards of the Florida Certification Plan set forth in chapter 6 of these rules and, if the area of claimed specialization or expertise is or falls within an area of practice under the Florida Certification Plan, the advertisement includes a reasonably prominent disclaimer that the lawyer is not board certified in that area of practice by The Florida Bar or another certification program if the lawyer is not board certified in that area of practice.
Bottom line: As I previously said, it remains to be seen whether this rule amendment is in compliance with the federal court’s order and the United States Constitution on its face and as applied. If the Bar reasonably interprets the language that the lawyer’s experience must be “reasonably comparable to that demonstrated by the standards of the Florida Certification Plan set forth in chapter 6 of these rules”, it may be found to be constitutional if challenged. Another potential constitutional challenge would be that the rule is vague and ambiguous on its face. The rule amendment must now be reviewed and implemented by the Florida Supreme Court to become effective. Stay tuned…
Disclaimer: this Ethics Alert is not an advertisement and does not contain any legal advice, and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.
Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire
Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.
2454 McMullen Booth Road, Suite 431
Clearwater, Florida 33759
Office (727) 799-1688
Fax (727) 799-1670