NUMBER 393 1950

Question. May a member of the New York Bar refer to himself on his door, stationery, professional card and in the telephone directory as: “specializing in taxation”; “tax specialist”; “tax consultant” or “tax attorney”?

Answer. In our opinion, it would not be proper to include any of the suggested references to taxation work as a specialty on the door, stationery, professional card, or in his listing in the telephone directory. The only fields recognized as “specialties” and which can be announced to the public are admiralty, patents, trade-marks and copyrights. (See Opinion 375.)

In Opinion 388 we stated that in view of Canon 27, “an attorney at law, acting as such, may not, by any form or medium of advertising announce to the public at large that he has a special skill in a particular branch of the law”; and that “this prohibition extends to every type of publicity, including legends on office doors, stationery, announcements, letters, circulars, etc.” Reference to such a specific field as taxation goes beyond the mere identification of the lawyer as such and is a form of advertising of special competence.


Professional cards or announcements to other attorneys rather than to the public at large present a different question. Lawyers may bring their specialties to the attention of other lawyers as distinguished from the public at large to the extent indicated in Canon 46. See Opinion 375 issued jointly with the Committee on Professional Ethics of The Association of the Bar of the City of New York.