Have you ever wondered who determines what specialties lawyers in Pennsylvania may advertise?
Rule 7.4(a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct provides that lawyers may advertise certain specialties, including patent and admiralty law. But it also provides that the Supreme Court may approve other certifications by certain agencies. How does the Court determine what organizations may certify members as specialists?
In 1992, the Supreme Court entered an order creating the Pennsylvania Bar Association Review and Certifying Board. This board reviews applications from organizations who propose to certify lawyers' expertise in a specific field of practice, and makes recommendations to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania for accreditation or reaccreditation as certifying organizations. In evaluating organizations seeking accreditation, the Review and Certifying Board considers the credentials and stature of the applicant organizations and the methods by which and the extent to which these organizations investigate, assess and evaluate the lawyers they propose to certify.
Currently, four organizations have been approved to certify lawyers in specialty areas of the law:
- the National Board of Trial Advocacy;
- the National Elder Law Foundation;
- the American Board of Certification; and,
- the PBA Workers Compensation Law Section.
Accreditation of organizations is effective for up to five years, and can be renewed upon recommendation of the PBA.