Logo of the National Board of Trial Advocacy
Founded in 1977, the National Board of Trial Advocacy ("NBTA") offers board certification in civil trial law, civil pretrial practice, truck accident law, criminal trial law, family trial law, and Social Security disability law. This non-profit corporation is accredited by the American Bar Association as a board-certifying agency.
From 2006 until 2015, the NBTA was a division of the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification (NBLSC). In 2015, the organization went back to being known as the National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA).
The NBTA is the largest national attorney specialty certification program. Overall, it is the fourth largest certification program. The NBTA has certified more than 2,400 lawyers across the country.
The NBLSC is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) to certify attorneys in five specialty areas of law that pertain to trial advocacy including criminal trial advocacy, civil trial advocacy, family trial advocacy, social security disability trial advocacy, civil pretrial practice, and truck accident law..
The NBTA program was reviewed in Peel v. Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of Illinois, 496 U.S. 91 (1990) (discipline for attorney's letterhead advertisement stating he was a civil trial specialist certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy violated the First Amendment) and Hayes v. N.Y. Atty. Griev. Comm., 672 F.3d 158 (2d. Cir. 2012) (New York disclaimer requirements violated First Amendment)
The goals of the organization include bettering the quality of trial advocacy in our nation's courtrooms and helping consumers find experienced and highly qualified trial lawyers. For attorneys that earn this important distinction, being board certified by the NBTA promotes excellence in legal advocacy and demonstrates the attorney's high standards of demonstrated competence and integrity.
Eleven states have formally-approved NBLSC certification, including Alabama, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas. Several other states have rules that formally recognize agencies accredited by the ABA, including Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
On November 7-9, 2018, the NBTA presented its first-ever All Star Conferences. The three-day CLE event brought together the best and brightest minds from a multitude of legal certification areas, including civil, criminal and family trial law, Social Security Disability, truck accident law, and civil practice.
NBTA's All Star Conferences was held in New Orleans at The Roosevelt New Orleans, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel in the heart of the French Quarter.
Tracks include Civil Law, Truck Accident Law, Medical/Legal Malpractice, Family Law, and Criminal Law. The featured speakers include Mark Geragos on Persuasive Trial Skills (Parts 1 and 2) and Mark O'Mara on Dynamic Jury Selections.
The certified specialist for civil trial advocacy focuses on noncriminal litigation, such as personal injury and medical malpractice litigation, construction law, insurance claims, and other civil controversies.
To earn certification in this specialty, the attorney must show he or she was involved in at least 45 days of trial, spending at least six hours per day on trial in each trial day. Of the trial experience, the attorney must have completed the following task requirements:
Additionally, the attorney must show active participation in at least one hundred (100) additional contested matters involving the taking of testimony, including evidentiary hearings or depositions, or motions filed before or after the trial starts. In civil advocacy, the hearings may include welfare hearings, arbitration hearings, and workers' compensation matters not tried in court.
Criminal trial advocacy includes all types of litigation in criminal cases, including both misdemeanors and felonies in state or federal court. The attorney must show substantial involvement in the specialty area of the law by being involved in at least 45 days of trial.
In that trial experience, the attorney must have completed the following task requirements:
The board-certified criminal trial attorney must show active participation in a minimum of one hundred (100) additional contested matters involving the taking of testimony, such as evidentiary hearings or depositions, or motions filed before or after the trial starts. In criminal advocacy, the hearings can also involve juvenile delinquency hearings.
The term "family law trial advocacy" is defined to include litigation in family law cases, such as divorce, separation or paternity actions. A certified family trial advocacy lawyer must show that at least 30% of his or her practice is devoted to family law litigation for each of the three years prior to the application.
The attorney must show substantial involvement in a family law practice by showing that he or she participated in a specified number of trials of family law matters to verdict or judgment. The attorney must also show participation in a specified number of contested matters including jury or bench trials, evidentiary hearings or depositions, and pretrial or trial motions.
Additionally, the attorney must show participation in continuing legal education (CLE) classes relevant to a family law practice. The attorney must also show that he or she has taught a course or seminar on the topic of family law, participated as a panelist, speaker, or workshop leader, or authored books or articles published in professional journals.
The attorney must provide substantial involvement in the specialty area of the law by spending at least 30 percent of his or her time in the specialty area during each of the last three years to become a board-certified Social Security Disability lawyer.
The attorney must show substantial involvement in the specialty area of the law by being involved in at least 100 Social Security Disability hearings, filed at least 20 appeals council briefs, filed at least 10 federal court briefs and fulfilled certain educational and CLE requirements.
Civil pretrial practice includes representation in pretrial issues in civil cases, such as discovery, summary judgment, and pretrial motion hearings. To become a certified specialist in civil pretrial practice, lawyers must show substantial involvement in this practice area including:
In September of 2018, the National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA), in partnership with the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys ("ATAA"), started accepting applications for Truck Accident Law board certification. The new specialty certification program for traffic accident law helps the public find a qualified attorney in a personal injury or wrongful death case involving a commercial motor vehicle.
The program also creates a marketing advantage for legal professionals who have extensive experience zealously represented families involved in truck crash cases and are willing to become a certified specialist in this area of the law.
An article appearing in AAJ's Trial Magazine in July of 1980 explained the close historical connection between the American Association for Justice (AAJ), formerly known as the ATLA, and the NBTA:
“One of ATLA’s major issues today—one through which it hopes to make great strides in providing adequate legal representation—is the certification of legal specialists. For this reason, ATLA established the National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA).”
True to this 35-year-old vision, more than 2,000 AAJ members have earned NBTA board certifications in civil trial law or NBTA board certifications in criminal trial law. The National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA) is a not-for-profit American Bar Association accredited legal specialty certification program.
NBTA is a sponsor of the upcoming 2016 American Association for Justice Winter Convention being held on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Royal Palm I-IV, Mizner Center, Boca Beach Resort & Club. Members of the NBTA are encouraged to stop by and pick up NBTA-branded conference ribbons for their badges as well as other materials.
If an attorney in Florida is contemplating applying for NBTA Board Certification in Civil Trial Advocacy, Criminal Trial Advocacy or Family Law Trial Advocacy and is a member of the Florida Bar, the attorney should first become Board Certified by The Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization & Education in their similar specialty area.
This article was last updated on Friday, November 22, 2019.