Clients often want to know: “What is the difference between a civil trial attorney and a board-certified civil trial attorney?” Or, simply: “What’s the difference between a lawyer and a board-certified lawyer?”
What it Means to be a Florida Board-Certified Lawyer
Doctors often focus on a particular area of medicine where they develop expertise, such as psychiatry, gastroenterology, or dermatology. Similarly, attorneys may choose to specialize in a specific area of law.
When attorneys meet specific criteria that qualify them in a particular area of law, such as civil trial law, criminal law, intellectual property law, or tax law, they may become “board-certified” in that area of law. In other words, they may be considered “specialists” in that area of law.
When a lawyer holds board certification from an accredited or state-sponsored organization, you, as a potential client, may make certain assumptions about the attorney, including:
- The lawyer is dedicated to his or her area of practice.
- The lawyer has made substantial efforts and invested significant time in becoming a superior lawyer in their certification area, above and beyond the standard requirements.
- The lawyer has passed an independent screening and examination in addition to the requirements imposed by a state’s licensing association.
- The lawyer is considered elite, as less than four percent of attorneys attain certification.
- Fellow attorneys and judges highly regard the lawyer.
In sum, specialty certification demonstrates that the attorney is highly proficient in their specialty area of law.
How Attorneys Become Board-Certified
The requirements for board certification vary from state to state. Generally, lawyers become board-certified by:
- Passing a written examination
- Demonstrating significant involvement in the relevant area of law
- Participating in continuing legal education in the relevant area of law
- Submitting to objective peer review by other board-certified lawyers in the relevant area of law
- Demonstrating substantial proficiency in legal writing
How Attorneys Become Board-Certified in Florida
In Florida, lawyers become board-certified by:
- Practicing law for a minimum of five years
- Demonstrating substantial involvement in the field of law identifying lawyers who have special skills and knowledge for which certification is sought
- Passing satisfactory peer review of competence in the specialty field, as well as character, ethics, and professionalism in the practice of law
- Satisfying the certification area’s continuing legal education requirements
- Receiving a passing grade on the examination required of all applicants or meeting strict criteria to be exempt from the exam
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Board-certification for attorneys allows clients to have confidence that their attorney is a specialist in a particular area of law.