July 19, 1982
A certified public accountant who is also an attorney may list both on professional cards, letterhead, and office signs.
References: MCPR DR 2-102(E); Supreme Court Admin Order 1978-4, 1979-7. Op 124 is superseded.
A lawyer who is also a certified public accountant asks whether it is permissible to list both facts on law firm letterhead, signs, and professional cards.
MCPR DR 2-102(E) specifically forbids the action, but has been superseded by Supreme Court by Admin Orders 1978-4 and 1979-7 which permit any form of public communication that is not false, fraudulent, misleading or deceptive.
It is noted that ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 7.5 would specifically approve the identification of a practitioner as both an attorney and a CPA under the rationale that "to the extent that such information is truthful, it is helpful to consumers." The Comment further notes that identifying an attorney as a CPA does "not indicate special competence as a lawyer (in the field of taxation), but competence as defined and evaluated by the other profession (CPA) involved." Thus, there would not technically be a violation of the Rule prohibiting the holding-out of one as a specialist in a field other than admiralty or patent law.
In 1949 this Comittee held that such a practice would be unethical because accountants were allowed to advertise and lawyers were not; this created "the vice of allowing the same individual to engage in a business (accountancy) where advertising is permitted while at the same time practicing a profession (law) where advertising is strictly forbidden," Op 124. However, now that lawyers are permitted to advertise, it is obvious that the rationale of the 1949 Opinion no longer applies.