The National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA) offered certificates to attorneys who had extensive trial experience, completed courses for continuing education, and passed a day-long exam. The NBTA issued a certificate to Gary Peel (defendant), an attorney who had tried over 400 cases and completed the requirements. After receiving his certification, Peel included a line on his professional letterhead that identified him as a certified civil trial specialist. The Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct prohibited attorneys from advertising themselves as legal specialists unless they were trademark, patent, or admiralty attorneys. The Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of Illinois (plaintiff) filed a complaint against Peel, and the state supreme court affirmed that Peel had violated the rules regarding advertising. Peel appealed to the United States Supreme Court.