Alabama State Bar Board of Legal Specialization
Since 1994, the Alabama State Bar Rules of Specialization have given attorneys the ability to earn special recognition as a certified specialist. Specialty certification gives lawyers the ability to verify their qualifications and credentials for a particular legal practice area.
At last count, approximately 90 attorneys in Alabama had earned the designation as a certified specialist.
The Board of Legal Specialization, appointed by the Board of Bar Commissioners, has oversight over the certification of attorneys and the accreditation of certifying organizations in Alabama. The 12 members of the board represent a range of practice areas, including general practice.
The board may not, itself, certify attorneys as specialists. It can, however, accredit independent agencies to certify attorneys. Board-certified Alabama lawyers may advertise their specialty status with gives them a distinct advantage when marketing their practice.
Areas Approved for Specialist Certification in Alabama
Specialty certification is available in the following legal practice areas:
- Criminal Trial Advocacy
- DUI Defense
- Civil Trial Advocacy
- Business Bankruptcy
- Consumer Bankruptcy
- Creditors' Rights
- Family Law Trial Advocacy
- Estate Planning Law
- Social Security Disability Advocacy
- Elder Law
Certifying Agencies Accredited in Alabama
The Alabama State Bar Board of Legal Certification has approved five certifying agencies. The program relies on these agencies as objective entities.
The agencies are expected to use standards that ensure the lawyer's special recognition as a "certified specialist" is meaningful and reliable. These agencies are listed as follows:
- The American Board of Certification is approved to grant certification for the following specialty areas of the law: Business Bankruptcy, Consumer Bankruptcy and Creditors' Rights.
- The National Association of Estate Planners and Councils is approved to grant certification for Estate Planning Law.
- The National Board of Legal Specialty Certification is approved to grant certification in the following specialty areas: Civil Trial Advocacy and Criminal Trial Advocacy, Family Law Trial Advocacy and Social Security Disability Advocacy.
- The National Elder Law Foundation, Inc., is approved to grant certification for Elder Law as a specialty area of the law.
- The National College for DUI Defense, Inc. is approved to grant certification for DUI Defense Law as a specialty area of the law.
Bar Rules in Alabama for Attorney Advertising
The commentary to the Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct at Rule 7.4(c) summarizes the requirements for attorneys when advertising their designation as a certified specialist. Rule 7.4(c) provides, in part:
"provides for certification as a specialist in a field of law where the Alabama State Bar Board of Legal Specialization has granted an organization the right to grant certification. Certification procedures imply that an objective entity has recognized a lawyer’s higher degree of specialized ability than is suggested by general licensure to practice law. Those objective entities may be expected to apply standards of competence, experience, and knowledge to insure that a lawyer’s recognition as a specialist is meaningful and reliable. To ensure that consumers can obtain access to useful information about an organization granting certification, the name of the certifying organization or agency must be included in any communication regarding certification."
Contact Information for Alabama's Certified Specialization ProgramAlabama State BarDirector of Regulatory Programs415 Dexter AvenueMontgomery, Alabama 36104Phone: (334) 269-1515Fax: (334) 261-6310
Disclaimer: Lawyer Legion is not endorsed or approved by any state or national board certification program or by any bar association, including the State Bar of Alabama. At Lawyer Legion, our online attorney directory recognizes the important role that specialty certification programs play in helping the public find an attorney in Alabama.
This article was last updated on Tuesday, September 13, 2016.