Q: What do the attorney ads mean? Various attorneys or firms list an area of practice, or say "practice limited to...," or "practicing primarily in...," or "general practice including but not limited to..." Are there differences?
A: Yes, there were differences. But as of January 1, 2013, these descriptions are no longer in the rules for Iowa attorneys, the rules are now as follows:
Rule 32:7.4: COMMUNICATION OF FIELDS OF PRACTICE AND SPECIALIZATION
(a) A lawyer may communicate the fact that the lawyer does or does not practice in particular fields of law.
(other areas omitted)
(d) 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 an organization or state authority that the attorney can demonstrate is qualified to grant such certification to attorneys who meet objective and consistently applied standards relevant to practice in a particular area of law;
(2) the name of the certifying organization is clearly identified in the communication;
(3) the reference to the certification must be truthful and verifiable and may not be misleading in violation of rule 32:7.1; and
(4) the representation by the lawyer that he or she is certified as a specialist states that the Supreme Court of Iowa does not certify lawyers as specialists in the practice of law and that certification is not a requirement to practice law in the State of Iowa.