Attorneys who become certified legal specialists must follow the Rules of Professional Conduct when it comes to advertising themselves.
Rule of Professional Conduct 7.4(a) provides that an attorney cannot state in a communication or solicitation that the attorney is a certified specialist unless the attorney has been certified either by the Board of Legal Specialization or by another certifying body that has been accredited by the State Bar. The rule also requires the attorney to state the complete name of the certifying body.
Rule 3.126 of the Legal Specialization program rules states that a certified specialist should refer to him/herself as "Certified by the State Bar of California."
A logo has been created that can be used in lieu of text by specialists certified by the Board of Legal Specialization to state the name of the certifying body. The logo is available for use in printed material, such as stationery, business cards, etc. and in electronic media. It can be reproduced in either color or black and white.
Before using the logo, read the guidelines that follow. Use of the logo is permitted solely under the terms stated in the guidelines. No modification or alteration of the logo is permitted, except as stated.
(adopted by the Board of Legal Specialization 11/15/02)
The Legal Specialization Program's logo is a symbol of distinction. Use of the logo is intended to present a consistent, identifiable image for specialization apart from the regular bar membership. The logo is recognizable by the profession and the general public as an indication of a continuing effort toward excellence in the field of law.
The following guidelines outline the approved use of the logo to maintain its integrity and to ensure the logo's continued release into the mainstream. These guidelines are not intended to create the sudden obsolescence of every piece of material currently used by the Legal Specialization Program and certified specialists in advertising the fact of certification. However, as material runs out, or as new designs are created, it is expected that these guidelines will be followed.
The purpose of these guidelines is to further the Board of Legal Specialization's (BLS) goals of making the California public aware of the benefits of using certified legal specialists, convincing California attorneys of the benefits of becoming or remaining certified legal specialists, thereby increasing the number of attorneys in the program, and recognizing those attorneys who have put forth the effort to become certified specialists.
Allowing certified attorneys to use the logo according to BLS guidelines will provide certified attorneys with an additional benefit to their certification and will promote recognition of specialist certification among attorneys and the consumers of legal services.
The use of the logo is restricted to the Board of Legal Specialization for promotional and advertising purposes and board-certified attorneys only. The board-certified legal specialist is responsible for the manner in which the logo is used in association with his or her name consistent with Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400(D)(6) and Rule 3.126 of the Rules Governing the State Bar of California Program for Certifying Legal Specialists.
Board certification is an attribute of the certified attorney and not his or her law firm's. When using the logo, it must be clear to a reasonable person that the certification applies to an individual attorney and the identity of that attorney must be clearly indicated. The Board of Legal Specialization logo may not be displayed in any manner that would lead a reasonable person to believe that a firm or other organization is certified by the board.
Subject to the Rules of Professional Conduct and these guidelines, the board-certified attorney may display the logo in any communication. Appropriate uses would include the use of the logo in newspaper advertisements, yellow page listings, letterhead, business cards, pamphlets, brochures, television advertisements and Internet display.
The board does not charge a licensing fee for the use of the logo. However, the board reserves the right to change the terms of these guidelines. The board reserves the right to withdraw the right to use the logo at any time and for any reason.
Certified attorneys are permitted to use the Board of Legal Specialization logo only in accordance with the board guidelines and only so long as they remain certified by the board.
Advertisements placed prior to receipt of the notice withdrawing the right to use the logo need not be withdrawn, but no such advertisement may be renewed after receipt of the notice. The attorney is responsible for any costs associated with ceasing use of the logo.
In order to preserve the accuracy of the logo and the quality of its presentation, only a printed logo or electronic version provided by the board may be used for reproduction purposes. The logo may be enlarged or reduced in size, but any other alternation of the logo is strictly prohibited (except that it may be reproduced in either color or black and white). The board may charge a fee to be set by the board for providing the print logo or electronic version.
Language associated with logo use: A certified specialist may, when offering legal services under the State Bar certified legal specialization program, refer to himself or herself as certified by "the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization" and/or use the logo.
All questions about the proper use of the logo should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 415-538-2120.