In some states, it isn't uncommon to see the name of a law firm or attorney's office with the letters "PC" after it. PC stands for "professional corporation." Like limited liability companies, corporations and other business structures, professional corporations are legally recognized business entities in some states.
The professional corporation is a business structure specifically allowed for in some state statutes. Like corporations, it allows directors and employees some protection from corporate liability. However, professional corporations are distinctly different than traditional "C" corporations in several ways.
Like regular corporations, professional corporations shield employees from liability arising from corporate activities. However, professional corporations typically do not offer the same level of liability shielding. These structures are set up to allow professionals more liability protection than typically offered in partnerships, though less than that found in corporations.
Another key difference between corporations and professional corporations is only licensed professionals can be a part of a PC. Typically, the only professionals who may form a PC are those who must have some sort of state and/or federal license to practice their profession. These include engineers, attorneys, doctors and architects.
Because licensed professionals must adhere to a strict code of professional ethics, professional corporations cannot shield these workers from those ethical requirements. Any liability arising from lapses in ethical conduct can still attach to members of a professional corporation.
Like other corporations, professional corporations must be registered with the state in which they are formed. For example, the state of Iowa allows professionals to form professional corporations. The state requires these structures to file documentation, such as the articles of incorporation and the business name, with the secretary of state's office.