Find a Board Certified Specialist Attorney
Lawyer Legion created a nationwide directory to find attorneys who have earned legal specialty certification in the state-sponsored and national programs. Many states have specialty certification programs administered by the State Bar.
At both the state and national level, board certification programs establish an independent measure of competence, professionalism, and peer acknowledgment which helps clients, and fellow lawyers set expectations for professional abilities in a given practice area.
How to Find an Attorney by Specialty
When you begin your search for an attorney, looking at board certification provides a convenient way to find an attorney by specialty. In addition to the eleven (11) state-sponsored programs, seven (7) non-profit national specialty certification programs are accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) to award specialty certification in specific practice areas of the law.
The boards collectively offer 49 specialization areas and certify approximately 30,000 attorneys. These board-certification programs are highly regulated. Attorneys must follow specific rules concerning how they communicate their specialty certification to the public in advertisements.
Use the Lawyer Legion directory to find an board certified attorney by selecting a state, then select a specialty area of the law, and then hit the yellow search button. You also have the option of adding a city or zip code to narrow the search even further. Read more about why you should claim your profile and how Lawyer Legion recognizes the board certified specialist attorney.
Rule 7.4(d) Communication of Fields of Practice and Specialization
Although a lawyer may communicate the fact that the lawyer does or does not practice in particular fields of law, under Model Rule 7.4(d), a lawyer shall not state or imply that a lawyer is certified as a specialist in a particular field of law, unless:
- the lawyer has been certified as a specialist by an organization that has been approved by an appropriate state authority or that has been accredited by the American Bar Association; and
- the name of the certifying organization is clearly identified in the communication.
Many states have adopted a variation of the model rule that governs how attorneys in that stay can market their specialty practice. The rules encourage qualified attorneys to seek out the designation as a certified specialist by either a state or national board certification program.
Why Search for a Board Certified Attorney?
By focusing on a particular practice area, the attorney can become more competent, experienced and proficient. Certification in a specialty field of law has become an important way for attorneys to gain recognition for that specialized practice.
For the public, the certification validates the lawyer's claim of experience, special skills, or focus in a particular area of the law. Board and specialty certification programs also provide the public with a powerful tool when they begin their search for a qualified attorney to handle their particular case.
In addition to using our online attorney directory to find a certified specialist, you can also use the official directory maintained by each program state or national program listed below.
Disclaimer: Lawyer Legion is not endorsed or approved by any state or national board certification program or by any state bar. The logo for each certification program is displayed as a visual indicator to help users identify each certification program.
State-Specific Board Certification Programs
Out of more than 17,000 practicing attorneys in Arizona, approximately 700 have earned special recognition of becoming "Board Certified" in a specialized practice area. Arizona attorneys who have earned board certification must submit... Read more »
California was the first state in the country to approve a legal certification program. The eleven specialties include criminal law, taxation law, and family law. The California State Bar also has recognized an additional eleven practice... Read more »
The Connecticut Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Workers' Compensation is permitted to certify an attorney as a “Board Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist.” The Connecticut Superior Court has also accredited three national organizations to certify specialist... Read more »
In 1982, the Florida Supreme Court established a process to recognize attorneys who take the extra steps necessary to have their experience and competence evaluated for a particular specialty area of the law. Board... Read more »
In 1993, the Louisiana Supreme Court established the Board of Legal Specialization. The board certification program for attorneys was created to help consumers in Louisiana identify attorneys evaluated for their experience... Read more ».
The Minnesota State Board of Legal Certification, appointed by the Minnesota Supreme Court, vets and accredits independent agencies to certify lawyers as specialists. Attorneys may seek certification from non-accredited agencies... Read more »
In 1980, the Supreme Court of New Jersey authorized the Board on Attorney Certification to administrate the state's program for certifying lawyers. The Board on Attorney Certification is responsible for administering the program... Read more »
The New Mexico Board of Legal Specialization provides the public with a list of current board certified specialists who have demonstrated a certain threshold of competency after an evaluation of the attorney's knowledge, involvement... Read more »
In 1985, the North Carolina State Bar created the Board of Legal Specialization. The board designates attorneys as "board certified" or "legal specialist" in various practice areas. Board certification in a specialty area was... Read more »
The Specialization Program of the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) recognizes attorneys dedicated to specialty areas of the law. Under Rule XIV, the Ohio Supreme Court Commission on Certification of Attorneys as Specialists (CCAS)... Read more »
The Supreme Court of South Carolina Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization has jurisdiction over the certification of attorneys as specialists in their area of practice. Under South Carolina rules, any attorney,... Read more »
Texas attorneys are certified as specialists by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Texas certifies lawyers in 21 areas of practice. Only about one tenth of licensed attorneys in Texas become board certified in a specific area... Read more »
National Organizations with ABA-Accredited Board Certification Programs
The National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA), formerly known as the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification, is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) to award specialty certification in criminal trial law, civil trial law, family law trial, and social security disability law....Read more »
The American Board of Certification (ABC) is a non-profit organization created to improve the quality of the bankruptcy and creditors' rights bars. Sponsored by the American Bankruptcy Institute and the Commercial Law League of ... Read more »
The National College for DUI Defense, Inc. (NCDD) is the only organization in the country that grants specialty or board certification for DUI Defense Law. Board Certification in DUI Defense Law from the NCDD is relatively rare .... Read more »
Founded in 1977, the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC) works to improve the quality of legal representation of children in dependency, delinquency, and family law cases. This non-profit charitable and professional... Read more »
Founded in 1993, the National Elder Law Foundation is the only national certifying program for elder law and special needs attorneys in this new and growing specialty area. The purpose of the program is to acknowledge... Read more »
The National Association of Estate Planners & Councils is dedicated to establishing and ensuring standards for professionals, including attorneys, who assist people with arranging the disposal of their estate after death. Founded... Read more »
The American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys was founded in 1972. The ABPLA is the only organization accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) to certify attorneys in the areas of legal malpractice and medical... Read more »
State Entities that Accredit Private Certification Programs
In eight states, a state entity is authorized to accredit a private certification program including:
- Alabama State Board of Legal Specialization;
- Idaho State Bar;
- Indiana Commission for CLE;
- Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar;
- Minnesota State Board of Legal Certification;
- Ohio Commission on Certification of Attorneys as Specialists;
- Pennsylvania Bar Association; and
- Tennessee Supreme Court Commission on CLE and Specialization.
Use our directory to browse for a board certified attorney by each specialty certification program.
Some states do not have a state sponsored program. For instance, the Washington State Bar Association allows board certified attorneys to advertise certain information about their specialty certification with a disclaimer, but it does not provide a state sponsored certification program.
Additional Resources on Specialty Certification
American Bar Association (ABA) Standing Committee on Specialization - The ABA Standing Committee on Specialization developed an annual Specialization Roundtable. Leaders within each state and national program meet once a year at the Annual Roundtable on Specialization held in conjunction with the National Forum on Client Protection and the National Conference on Professional Responsibility. The ABA’s annual National Specialization Roundtable is the only periodic networking event for all administrators and directors of specialty certification programs for lawyers in the United States and Canada. The 2017 Annual Roundtable on Specialization will be held at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at The Arch at 315 Chestnut Street in St. Louis, MO, on June 2-3, 2017. The Roundtable is open to all certified specialist and others interested in starting or growing a specialty certification program.
This article on how to find an attorney by specialty was last updated on Friday, May 26, 2017.