Board Certified

Board Certification for Lawyers: What Does It Mean?

Board certification recognizes attorneys’ special knowledge, skills and proficiency in various areas of law and professionalism and ethics in practice. Board certified lawyers are Evaluated for Professionalism, Tested for Expertise. Certification is The Florida Bar’s highest level of evaluation of the competency and experience of attorneys in the 24 areas of law approved for certification by the Supreme Court of Florida. Established in 1982 by the Florida Supreme Court, board certification helps consumers identify specialists in various areas of law. Board certified Florida Bar members are the only Florida attorneys allowed to identify themselves as “Board Certified,” “Specialist,” “Expert” or to use the letters “B.C.S.” for Board Certified Specialist on business cards or letterhead, in legal directories or in advertising.7 percent of eligible Florida Bar members, approximately 4,600lawyers, are board certified. A lawyer who is a member in good standing of The Florida Bar and who meets the standards prescribed by the state's Supreme Court may become board certified in one or more of the 24certification fields. Minimum requirements for certification are listed below; each area of certification may contain higher or additional standards.

-Practice law for a minimum of five years.

-Demonstrate substantial involvement in the field of law for which certification is sought.

- Pass satisfactory peer review of competence in the specialty field as well as character, ethics and professionalism in the practice of law.

-  Satisfy the certification area’s continuing legal education requirements.

-  Receive a passing grade on the examination required of all applicants or meet strict criteria to exempt the exam.

 

“Board certification is one of the highest recognitions a lawyer in Florida can receive. The very difficult testing and extensive background peer review to confirm professional conduct is such a high standard that just seven percent of our eligible membership has achieved this level of recognition. All board certified attorneys should be extremely proud of their accomplishment.”

~ Florida Bar President Gregory Coleman

 

LEGAL ADVERTISING GOES HIGH TECH: BOARD CERTIFICATION CAN HELP CONSUMERS SORT THROUGH INTERNET CLUTTER TO EVALUATE LAWYERS’ CREDENTIALS – Legal advertising is making a high-tech shift, with law firms placing more emphasis on Internet marketing and search engine rankings. This shift is good news for consumers, who now are better able to compare lawyers’ qualifications online before interviewing them. According to Lawyers.com Editor in Chief Larry Bodine, the ways that consumers look for lawyers have changed in today's digital age. Bodine in a blog post cites a March 2012 survey of 4,000 adult internet users that found three out of four consumers seeking an attorney over the previous year used online resources at some point in the process. Bodine comments, “The advent of social media, smart phones and search engines has dramatically affected the way consumers find lawyers.” Many legal web sites include key words that increase their search engine rankings and help attract clients. Consumers should be aware that in Florida, only lawyers who are board certified by The Florida Bar or another Florida Bar-approved certifying organization may use the terms “specialist,” “expert,” or the letters “B.C.S.” for Board Certified Specialist when referring to their legal credentials. Our slogan is, “Evaluated for Professionalism, Tested for Expertise.” If board certified lawyers advertise as experts to distinguish themselves from other attorneys, how does that designation differ from other lawyers’ credentials, and what does it mean for consumers? Board certification evaluates attorneys’ special knowledge, skills and proficiency in various areas of law and professionalism and ethics in practice. Board certified lawyers are evaluated for professionalism, tested for expertise. Of the lawyers eligible to practice law in Florida, 6 percent – more than 4,600 Florida lawyers – have earned board certification. Certification is The Florida Bar’s highest evaluation of attorneys’ competency, experience and professionalism in the areas of law approved for specialization. The Florida Bar maintains high standards lawyers must meet before seeking certification in one or more of the 24 areas of law approved by the Florida Supreme Court for board certification. Even if an attorney does meet the stringent application criteria; judges and other lawyers must evaluate the lawyer as to character, ethics and professionalism; and the lawyer must pass a rigorous examination or meet strict criteria to exempt the exam before officially earning board certification. Florida offers 24 specialty areas for board certification, more than any other state. The Florida Bar maintains a free, on online directory of board certified lawyers by specialty area and city at FloridaBar.org/certification. “Florida Bar board certified,” “specialist,” “expert” and “B.C.S.” are terms that let you know an attorney is a legal expert dedicated to professional excellence, a credential that can help you sort through the clutter of Internet legal advertising when comparing lawyers’ qualifications.

 

LEGAL ADVERTISING GOES HIGH TECH: BOARD CERTIFICATION CAN HELP CONSUMERS SORT THROUGH INTERNET CLUTTER TO EVALUATE LAWYERS’ CREDENTIALS A March 2012 survey of adult internet users found that three out of four consumers seeking an attorney over the previous year used online resources at some point in the process, clearly indicating that the way consumers look for lawyers has changed in today’s digital age. Consumers who compare lawyers’ qualifications online before interviewing them probably know that many legal web sites include key words that increase their search engine rankings and help attract clients. However, they might not know that in Florida, only lawyers who are board certified by The Florida Bar or another Florida Bar-approved certifying organization may use the terms “specialist,” “expert,” or the letters “B.C.S.” for Board Certified Specialist when referring to their legal credentials. Board certification is The Florida Bar’s highest evaluation of attorneys’ competency, experience and professionalism in the 24 areas of law approved for specialization. Board certification evaluates attorneys’ special knowledge, skills and proficiency in various areas of law and professionalism and ethics in practice. Board certified lawyers are evaluated for professionalism, tested for expertise. Florida offers 24 specialty areas for board certification, more than any other state. Of the lawyers eligible to practice law in Florida, 6 percent – more than 4,600 Florida lawyers – have earned board certification. The Florida Bar maintains a free, on online directory of board-certified lawyers by specialty area and city at FloridaBar.org/certification. “Florida Bar board certified,” “specialist,” “expert” and “B.C.S.” are terms that let you know an attorney is a legal expert dedicated to professional excellence, a credential that can help you sort through the clutter of Internet legal advertising when comparing lawyers’ qualifications.

 

Certification is a voluntary program for lawyers, approved by The Florida Supreme Court and administered by The Florida Bar. The program began in 1982 to help the public choose lawyers. Certified attorneys are the only lawyers allowed to use the terms specialist, expert or B.C.S. for Board Certified Specialist when referring to their legal credentials. Board certification is The Florida Bar’s “Legal Expert” status. The Florida Bar evaluates all certified lawyers for experience and expertise in a particular area of law and professionalism and ethics in the practice of law. Our slogan is, “Evaluated for Professionalism, Tested for Expertise.” A lawyer who is a member in good standing of The Florida Bar and who meets the standards prescribed by the state's Supreme Court may become board certified in one or more of the 24 certification fields. Certification is the highest level of evaluation by The Florida Bar of the competency and experience of attorneys in the areas of law approved for certification. The Florida Bar offers the greatest number of specialties (24) of any state in the U.S.

What does it mean to be certified?

 Board certified lawyers have a minimum of five years in law practice. Certified lawyers must show substantial involvement in the field of law for which certification is sought. They must receive a passing grade on the examination required of all applicants or meet strict criteria to exempt the exam before officially earning board certification; each specialty has a different exam. Certified lawyers must satisfy a peer review assessment of their competence in the specialty field plus character, ethics and professionalism in the practice of law. Certified lawyers must satisfy the certification area’s continuing legal education requirements. Board certification is valid for five years, during which time the attorney must continue to practice law and attend Florida Bar-approved continuing legal education courses. To be recertified, lawyers must meet requirements similar to those for initial certification. How does the certification program help a client or potential client? Board certified lawyers’ experience and competency have been rigorously evaluated, and they are the only Florida lawyers allowed to refer to themselves as specialists or experts or to use the letters B.C.S. to indicate Board Certified Specialist when referring to their legal credentials. Board certified lawyers have met The Florida Bar’s highest standards for special knowledge, skills and proficiency in various areas of law and professionalism and ethics in the practice of law.