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St. Mary's Law Journal

Publisher

St. Mary's University School of Law

Abstract

This Article explains how attorneys can avoid private reprimands for advertisements in the Yellow Pages pursuant to subsection (B) and (C) of the Texas Code of Professional Responsibility Disciplinary Rule 2-101, given there is no scholarship or precedent. Subsection (B) requires an advertisement to include the name of a lawyer who is licensed to practice law in Texas, who will be responsible for performing the legal service, and the areas of law in which they practice. Subsection (C) requires detailed statements be included concerning whether the individuals named in compliance with subsection (B) are certified with the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. This causes the Yellow Page advertisement to be a tangle of disclaimers, provisos, and footnotes. In the absence of guiding precedent on subsection (B), a practitioner should attempt in good faith to furnish prospective clients with the most accurate information as to who will likely provide legal services or how that decision will be made. As for subsection (C), it is clear any time an advertisement names an area of practice, or otherwise conveys the impression that the attorney has special expertise in a given field, an appropriate disclaimer must be included. United States Supreme Court decisions strongly suggest attorneys do not need to include disclaimer language from the statute but should exercise care to ensure prospective clients are fully and accurately apprised as to the certification credentials of those who are named. An advertisement should make clear, through wording or format, whether certifications encompass particular cases or sub-areas. Until such time as the relevant language is authoritatively interpreted or—perhaps better—revised, this is all practitioners can reasonably be expected to do in navigating the trouble-fraught waters of subsections (B) and (C).

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