N.M. R. Prof'l. Cond. 16-704

As amended through November 1, 2020
Rule 16-704 - Communication of fields of practice and specialization
A.Communication of fields of practice. A lawyer may communicate the fact that the lawyer does or does not practice in particular fields of law.
B.Patent practice. A lawyer admitted to engage in patent practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office may use the designation "Patent Attorney" or a substantially similar designation.
C.Admiralty practice. A lawyer engaged in admiralty practice may use the designation "Admiralty", "Proctor in Admiralty" or a substantially similar designation.
D.Certification by organization. A lawyer shall not state or imply that a lawyer is certified as a specialist in a particular field of law, unless
(1) the lawyer has been certified as a specialist by the State Bar of New Mexico, an organization that has been approved by an appropriate authority of another state, or by an organization that has been accredited by the American Bar Association; and
(2) the name of the certifying organization is clearly identified in the communication.

N.M. R. Prof'l. Cond. 16-704

As amended, effective August 1, 1992;December 1, 1992; as amended by Supreme Court Order No. 08-8300-029, effective November 3, 2008; as amended by Supreme Court Order No. 18-8300-018, effective December 31, 2018.

Committee commentary. -

[1] Paragraph A of this rule permits a lawyer to indicate areas of practice in communications about the lawyer's services. If a lawyer practices only in certain fields or will not accept matters except in a specified field or fields, the lawyer is permitted to so indicate. A lawyer is generally permitted to state that the lawyer is a "specialist," practices a "specialty," or "specializes in" particular fields, but such communications are subject to the "false and misleading" standard applied in Rule 16-701 NMRA of the Rules of Professional Conduct to communications concerning a lawyer's services.

[2] Paragraph B recognizes the long-established policy of the Patent and Trademark Office for the designation of lawyers practicing before that office. Paragraph C recognizes that designation of admiralty practice has a long historical tradition associated with maritime commerce and the federal courts.

[3] Paragraph D permits a lawyer to state that the lawyer is certified as a specialist in a field of law if such certification is granted by the the State Bar of New Mexico; by an organization that has been approved by an appropriate authority of another state; or by an organization that has been accredited by the American Bar Association. This may include a state bar association that has been approved by the state authority to accredit organizations that certify lawyers as specialists. Certification signifies that an objective entity has recognized an advanced degree of knowledge and experience in the specialty area greater than is suggested by general licensure to practice law. Certifying organizations may be expected to apply standards of experience, knowledge, and proficiency to ensure that a lawyer's recognition as a specialist is meaningful and reliable. In order to ensure that consumers can obtain access to useful information about an organization granting certification, the name of the certifying organization must be included in any communication regarding the certification.

[Adopted by Supreme Court Order No. 08-8300-029, effective November 3, 2008; as amended by Supreme Court Order No. 18-8300-018, effective December 31, 2018.]

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ANNOTATIONS The 2018 amendment, approved by Supreme Court Order No. 18-8300-018, effective December 31, 2018, substituted the State Bar of New Mexico for the New Mexico Board of Legal Specialization as the state organization that certifies lawyers as specialists in a specific area of law, permitting the lawyer to state that the lawyer is certified as a specialist in a field of law, and revised the committee commentary; in Paragraph D, after "specialist by the", deleted "New Mexico Board of Legal Specialization" and added "State Bar of New Mexico". The 2008 amendment, approved by Supreme Court Order No. 08-8300-29, effective November 3, 2008, added "and specialization" to the title; labeled the former prefatory sentence of the rule as Paragraph A; added the title to Paragraph A; deleted language in Paragraph A which provided "as permitted by Paragraph (2) of Paragraph D of Rule 16-702 NMRA. A lawyer shall not state or imply that the lawyer is a specialist except as follows:"; relettered former Paragraph A as Paragraph B; relettered former Paragraph B as Paragraph C; deleted former Paragraph C which permitted a board recognized specialist to indicate that he is a board recognized specialist in the lawyer's area of specialty; deleted former Paragraph D which permitted a lawyer who is certified by an organization other than the New Mexico Board of Legal Specialization to state the certification if the certification is available to all lawyers who meet objective and consistently applied standards and if the statement is accompanied by a disclaimer that the certification does not constitute recognition by the New Mexico Board of Legal Specialization; and added new Paragraph D. The second 1992 amendment, effective December 1, 1992, added "or the board does not recognize specialization in that area" to the end of Paragraph D. The first 1992 amendment, effective for all lawyer advertisements mailed, displayed or broadcast on and after August 1, 1992, inserted "as permitted by Subparagraph (2) of Paragraph D of Rule 16-702" in the first sentence of the introductory paragraph; in Paragraph C, substituted references to recognized specialists for references to registered specialists throughout, substituted "New Mexico Board of Legal Specialization" for "specialization board", corrected a misspelling, and deleted the former second paragraph relating to a requirement that attorneys disclose that they are not registered specialists in certain instances; and added Paragraph D. Compiler's notes. - The old ABA Comment was replaced by the 2008 committee commentary. Am. Jur. 2d, A.L.R. and C.J.S. references. - 7 Am. Jur. 2d Attorneys at Law § 66. 7 C.J.S. Attorney and Client §§ 77 to 87.