Ibanez v. Florida DBPR (1994)

Ibanez v. Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, 512 U.S. 136 (1994).

In addition to being a lawyer, Silvia Ibanez was also a certified public accountant and a certified financial planner.  Although she limited her work to the practice of law, she included all three of her professional designations –  JD, CPA, and CFP – on her business cards and legal stationery.

Salvador Dali Museum, St. Petersburg, FL
Salvador Dali Museum, St. Petersburg, FL

Ibanez was censured by the Florida Board of Accountancy for false and misleading advertising based on the inclusion of these professional designations on the business cards for Ibanez’ law practice.  And once again, the Court reversed, finding that the Board could not prohibit otherwise-truthful communications merely based on the potential to mislead.[ref]Impressively, Sylvia Ibanez argued – and won – her case before the Supreme Court as a pro se petitioner.[/ref]

Justice O’Connor again penned a dissent, arguing for greater deference to the advertising restrictions promulgated and enforced by state professional licensing agencies.  

Takeaway:  Another nail in the coffin for the mere “potential to mislead” being a sound basis for advertising restrictions.