The average person may not realize that legal service advertising and marketing by attorneys are strictly controlled by the bar associations of each state. The Rules of Professional Conduct prohibit attorneys from making certain claims in lawyer advertisements, and Florida’s rules are some of the country’s most restrictive. For example, Florida Rule of Professional Conduct 4-7.14 prohibits an attorney from stating or implying that a lawyer specializes in an area of law. So, how does a lawyer get to use such terms as "expert" or "specialist?”
The Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization and Education oversees 24 legal specialty areas (more than any other state) in which lawyers can become board certified -- areas such as adoption law, health law, real estate law and tax law. The board certification program was established by the Supreme Court of Florida in 1982 to aid consumers in identifying qualified legal specialists. Certification is a voluntary program, but only board certified lawyers are allowed to identify themselves as specialists or experts in their specific field, or to use the letters “B.C.S.” for Board Certified Specialist when referring to their legal credentials. There are also logos available for each specialty field of practice that certified lawyers may use on their letterhead, business cards, office door, in the yellow pages of the telephone book, in approved law lists and by other means permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Only six percent of eligible Florida Bar members are board certified. And I am proud to announce that I am now one of those select few. I have achieved board certification in civil trial law, the field of law that addresses litigation of civil controversies in all areas of substantive law before state and federal courts, administrative agencies and arbitrators. While there are minimum requirements that must be met for each area of certification, the specific requirements for civil trial certification are that the lawyer must:
- Be a member in good standing of The Florida Bar;
- Practice law for a minimum of five years;
- Actively participate in the specialty of civil trial (50 percent or more) during the three years immediately preceding application;
- Conduct at least 15 contested civil cases in courts of general jurisdiction;
- Pass satisfactory peer review of competence as well as character, ethics and professionalism in the practice of law;
- Complete 50 hours of continuing legal education within the three years immediately preceding application; and
- Receive a passing grade on a written examination, demonstrating knowledge, skills and proficiency in the civil trial field.
The Florida Bar maintains a free, online directory of board certified lawyers by specialty area and city here.
It is a great personal and professional accomplishment, and I am delighted that I can now share my civil trial law competency and experience with those who need help. In fact, I can now say that I have successfully been “Evaluated for Professionalism, Tested for Expertise” and am honored to have achieved this level of recognition.
If you have more questions about this topic or wish to retain the services of our newly board certified specialist in civil trial law, trust your case to the attorneys at Stabinski Law For 45 years, we have helped people understand their rights under the law. Contact us by calling 305-643-3100 or filling out a free case evaluation form.
DISCLAIMER: Any information about past verdicts and settlements is based on the unique facts of each case. Every case is different, and future cases may not achieve the same or similar results. These amounts reflect the gross recovery (before attorneys’ fees and expenses are deducted).