Peel v. Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of Illinois
Petitioner Peel is licensed to practice law in Illinois and other States. He also has a "Certificate in Civil Trial Advocacy" from the National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA), which offers periodic certification to applicants who meet exacting standards of experience and competence in trial work. The Administrator of respondent Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of Illinois filed a complaint alleging that Peel, by using a professional letterhead that stated his name, followed by the indented notation "Certified Civil Trial Specialist By the [NBTA]" and the unindented notation "Licensed: Illinois, Missouri, Arizona," was, inter alia, holding himself out as a certified legal specialist in violation of Rule 2-105(a)(3) of the Illinois Code of Professional Responsibility. The Commission recommended censure. The State Supreme Court adopted the Commission's recommendation, concluding that the First Amendment did not protect the letterhead because the public could confuse the State and NBTA as the sources of his license to practice and of his certification, and because the certification could be read as a claim of superior quality.
Held: The judgment is reversed, and the case is remanded.
126 Ill.2d 397, 128 Ill.Dec. 535, 534 N.E.2d 980 (1989), reversed and remanded.