Board Certified in Workers' Compensation Law

Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization and EducationWorkers' Compensation was established as a field for specialty certification in Florida in 1988. Rule 6-11.1 provides that "[a] lawyer who is a member in good standing of The Florida Bar and meets the standards prescribed below may be issued an appropriate certificate identifying the lawyer as "Board Certified in Workers' Compensation Law."

The purpose of the standards is to identify those lawyers who practice workers' compensation law and have the special knowledge, skills, and proficiency, as well as the character, ethics, and reputation for professionalism, to be properly identified to the public as board certified in workers' compensation law."

Find a Lawyer in Florida board certified in Workers' Compensation Law.


Definitions for the Workers' Compensation Specialty

Under Rule 6-11.2 the following definitions are used:


(a) Workers' Compensation.
 
"Workers' compensation" is the practice of law involving the analysis and litigation of problems or controversies arising out of the Florida Workers' Compensation Law (chapter 440, Florida Statutes).

(b) Practice of Law.
 
The "practice of law" for this area is defined as set out in rule 6-3.5(c)(1).

(c) Trial.
 
"Trial" shall be defined as the process of having carried a client's burden of going forward in either the prosecution or defense of a claim for any substantive benefit (including entitlement to an attorney's fee). Pretrial, settlement, lump sum, and motion hearings (including motions to be relieved of costs) shall not be considered trials. Substantial participation in a rule nisi petition and hearing for the enforcement of a workers’ compensation order is a "trial" under this subsection, but no more than two such hearings may be used. Attorney fee hearings, on the sole issue of the quantum fees, cannot be considered as a contested workers’ compensation case. Cases involving a merits hearing, with a later attorney fee hearing on the question of entitlement to an attorney’s fee on the same merit issues, can count as only 1 case. Hearings and/or trials outside the jurisdiction of the Florida Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims, and appeals of these matters (including, but not limited to, federal workers’ compensation matters, Federal Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act matters, and other circuit court actions, etc.) cannot be used to meet the trial or protracted litigation.

(d) Protracted Litigation.
 
"Protracted litigation" shall be defined as litigation that involves unusual or complicated legal issues and extensive discovery, yet does not result in submission of the ultimate issue to the trier of fact, or substantial presentation in the appeal of workers’ compensation cases.

(e) Substantial Equivalent.
 
"Substantial equivalent" includes preparation and publication of legal articles, or the presentation of lectures and seminars, and the trial and submission to the trier of fact of any workers’ compensation issues before any judge other than a Judge of Compensation Claims (JCC). In addition, an applicant can only substitute up to 3 workers’ compensation mediations, where the applicant acted as mediator, to count as 1 “substantial equivalent”. The applicant may substitute up to 3 substantial equivalents (i.e., 9 mediations acting as mediator) in this manner. What is or is not a substantial equivalent is within the sole discretion of the workers' compensation certification committee, but may not substitute for more than 5 of the required trials of workers' compensation cases.

Minimum Standards for Certification in Workers' Compensation Law

The minimum standards for certification in workers' compensation law are found in Rule 6-11.3 which provides:


(a) Substantial Involvement.

To become certified as a workers' compensation lawyer, a lawyer must demonstrate substantial involvement in workers' compensation law. Substantial involvement shall include the following:

(1) At least 5 years of the actual practice of law of which at least 30 percent has been spent in active participation in workers' compensation law. At least 3 years of this practice shall be immediately preceding application or, during those 3 years, the applicant may have served as a judge of compensation claims adjudicating workers' compensation matters.

(2) The trial of a minimum of 25 contested workers' compensation cases. All such cases must have involved substantial legal or factual issues. In each of these 25 cases the applicant shall have been responsible for all or a majority of the presentation of evidence and representation of the client.

As partial satisfaction of the requirement of 25 contested workers' compensation cases, the workers' compensation certification committee may substitute for "trials" their "substantial equivalent," appeals, or cases involving protracted litigation of contested workers' compensation cases involving substantial legal or factual issues.

Successful completion of a trial advocacy seminar, approved by the committee, that includes as a part of its curriculum active participation by the applicant in simulated courtroom proceedings may substitute as 1 contested workers' compensation case.

The total number of cases that may be substituted for the minimum of 25 contested cases including cases of "substantial equivalent," appeals and cases of "protracted litigation" shall not exceed a total of 10, of which the cases of "protracted litigation" and/or appeals shall not exceed a total of 8 cases, and cases of "substantial equivalent" shall not exceed a total of 5 cases.

(3) Within the 3 years immediately preceding application, the applicant shall have substantial involvement in contested workers' compensation cases sufficient to demonstrate special competence as a workers' compensation lawyer. Substantial involvement includes investigation, evaluation, pleadings, discovery, taking of testimony, presentation of evidence and argument, and trial of workers' compensation cases.

Substantial involvement also includes active participation in the appeal of workers' compensation cases. For good cause shown, the workers' compensation certification committee may waive up to 2 of the 3 years' substantial involvement for individuals who have served as judges of compensation claims adjudicating workers' compensation matters.

(b) Peer Review.

The applicant shall select and submit names and addresses of 5 lawyers, not associates or partners, as references to attest to the applicant's special competence and substantial involvement in workers' compensation practice, as well as the applicant's character, ethics, and reputation for professionalism.

Such lawyers themselves shall be involved in workers' compensation law and shall be familiar with the applicant's practice.

No less than 1 shall be a judge of compensation claims before whom the applicant has appeared as an advocate in the trial of a workers' compensation case in the 2 years immediately preceding the application. In addition, the workers' compensation certification committee may, at its option, send reference forms to other attorneys and judges of compensation claims.

(c) Education.

The applicant shall make a satisfactory showing that, within the 3 years immediately preceding application, the applicant has accumulated at least 45 hours of approved continuing legal education in the field of workers' compensation law.


(d) Examination.

The applicant must pass an examination applied uniformly to all applicants to demonstrate sufficient knowledge, proficiency, and experience in workers' compensation law to justify the representation of special competence to the legal profession and the public.

Recertification in Workers' Compensation Law in Florida

The rules for recerticiation can be found in Rule 6-11.5 which provides:

During the 5-year period immediately preceding the date of application, the applicant must meet the following requirements for recertification:

(a) Substantial Involvement.


The applicant shall demonstrate continuous and substantial involvement in the practice of law, of which 30 percent has been spent in active participation in workers' compensation law throughout the period since the last date of certification. The demonstration of substantial involvement shall be made in accordance with the standards set forth in rule 6-11.3(a)(3).


(b) Trial Requirement.


The applicant must have completed trial of a minimum of 15 contested workers' compensation cases, or the substantial equivalent, since the filing of the last application for certification.

All such cases must have involved substantial legal or factual issues. For good cause shown, as partial satisfaction for the requirement of 15 contested workers' compensation cases, the workers' compensation certification committee may substitute for "trials" their "substantial equivalent" or 5 cases involving appeals and/or protracted litigation of contested workers' compensation cases involving substantial legal or factual issues.

The total number of cases that may be substituted for the minimum 15 contested cases, including cases of "substantial equivalent," appeals and cases of "protracted litigation," is a total of 10 cases, of which the total number of cases of "protracted litigation" and/or appeals, shall not exceed a total of 8 cases and cases of "substantial equivalent" shall not exceed a total of 5 cases. An attorney fee hearing, on the sole issue of the quantum fees, cannot be considered as a contested workers’ compensation case.

A case involving a merits hearing, with a later attorney fee hearing on the question of entitlement to an attorney’s fee on the same merit issues, can count as only 1 case.


(c) Peer Review.


The applicant shall submit references as set forth in rule 6-11.3(b). The references submitted must be able to attest to the applicant's special competence and substantial involvement in workers' compensation practice, as well as the applicant's character, ethics, and professionalism, throughout the period since the last date of certification.


(d) Education.


The applicant shall report completion of at least 75 hours of approved continuing legal education in workers' compensation law since the filing of the last application for certification.


(e) Waiver. 


On special application, for good cause shown, the workers' compensation certification committee may waive compliance with the 15 contested workers' compensation cases requirement for an applicant who has been continuously certified as a workers' compensation lawyer for a period of 14 years or more.

Under Rule 6-11.4, an applicant who is serving as a judge of compensation claims and applies for recertification while serving as a judge of compensation claims shall be deemed to have met the requirements of rule 6-11.5.