December 1966

ADVERTISING LETTERHEADS "TAX ATTORNEY" OR "TAX SERVICE" SPECIALIZED PRACTICE. An attorney may not use the terms "Tax Attorney," "Tax Service" or the like on his letterhead or card or in any announcement or directory except approved legal directories.

Canons 24, 39, 4142.


A member of the State Bar inquires whether an attorney who uses the designation "Tax Attorney" on his letterhead must restrict his practice exclusively to tax matters and, if so, whether the restriction would apply if he is a member of a firm.


We have previously ruled in Opinion 52 (May, 1952) and Opinion 77 (September, 1953) that an attorney specializing in tax practice may include on his letterhead, in the professional directory of a newspaper and on his calling card a designation of his specialty, such as 'Tax Attorney," "Tax Service," "Tax Practice Exclusive," or the like, but in more recent opinions, e.g., 192 (1958), 221 (1959), 260 (1963), 286 (1964), 289 (1964), and 291 (1964), we have indicated a contrary view.

Drinker, Legal Ethics, at page 229, says: " [A letterhead] may not contain a statement that the lawyer is an M.D. or a C.P.A, Tax Consultant, Doctor of Jurisprudence . . . or specify other occupations in which he is engaged, or that he is a member of the American Bar Association; or specify as a branch practiced Medical Legal Law, Medical Jurisprudence, or any other branch practiced, including patent law prior to the 1951 amendment, or state that he is consulting counsel to other lawyers on constitutional cases." (Emphasis added.) We approve.

A.B.A. Informal Opinions 901 and 902 November 11, (1965) expressly disapprove the use of "Tax Counsel" on letterheads and cards. We approve those opinions.

The general subject of advertising specialized law practice as exhaustively reviewed in our Opinion 289 (June, 1964) and we reaffirm both the reasoning and holding of that opinion.

Under Canon 41 specialists in any particular branch of the legal profession are subject to all the Canons of Ethics; notice of any specialized practice is strictly limited by Canons 39 and 42 and any other notice constitutes advertising in violation of Canon 24.

We therefore expressly overrule Opinions 52 and 77, and hold that an attorney may not indicate "Tax Service" or any other specialized practice on his letterhead or card or in any announcement or directory, except approved legal directories.

In view of this ruling the specific questions as above presented are moot. (80.)