Board Certified Specialists

Lawyers can earn Board Certification in a number of specialty areas of practice. Board Certified Specialists have demonstrated the highest levels of knowledge, experience, and excellence in a particular field of practice.

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New Jersey Board on Attorney Certification

New Jersey Board on Attorney Certification

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 and making rules for certification. The program also sought to protect consumers from misleading advertising claims by creating an objective and reliable standard for specialization.

The Board of Attorney Certification is responsible for the operation of the certification program, including financial, policy, and rule-making functions. The Board also acts as an appellate arm when an aggrieved attorney appeals a decision made by a Certification Committee. 

As of December 2016, approximately 1,650 hold board certification out of roughly 75,000 active lawyers in New Jersey.

The program was created to raise the level of competence of attorneys in certain practice areas while helping members of the public find an attorney in New Jersey.

Only attorneys who are board certified are allowed to say they are recognized as a specialist in any field on their attorney advertisements, either online or in print advertising unless they include a disclaimer stating the certification is not accredited. Patent attorneys and proctors in admiralty are not required to seek state certification to advertise as such.

Patent attorneys and proctors in admiralty are not required to seek state certification to advertise as such.

The program requires attorneys to demonstrate a certain threshold of experience, education, skill, and knowledge in a particular field of the law. Additionally, the attorney must pass a written examination and be recognized by other attorneys or judges for their skills and reputation in a certain practice area of the law.

Board-certified attorneys in New Jersey may also be certified by any organization that is accredited by the American Bar Association.


Types of Certified Specialty Areas in New Jersey

The Supreme Court of New Jersey, through recommendation by the Board on Attorney Certification, currently certifies attorneys in four specialty areas of the law:

Attorneys who have earned the designation should use the phrase "Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a _____________ Attorney." The type of certification for either civil trial law, criminal trial law, matrimonial law, or workers' compensation law should be inserted in the blank space.


NJ Supreme Court Approves Trial Certification for Municipal Court Attorneys

The New Jersey Supreme Court has authorized trial certification in the area of municipal court practice. The new trial certification became available on September 1, 2011. Amendment to the rules and regulations that implement this change begin on page 9 of the Appendix. Read more at Notice of Certification for Municipal Court Trial Law.


Finding a Board Certified Attorney in New Jersey

The website for the New Jersey Courts maintains a list of certified attorneys for each practice area. The board certified attorneys are listed in alphabetical order. Only the attorney's name, the name of the firm and the attorney's phone number are listed. The board certified attorneys are also listed by county on the New Jersey Judiciary website.

The website allows members of the public to search for a certified specialist in New Jersey's largest cities including Newark, Woodbridge Township, Jersey City, Edison, Paterson, and Elizabeth, New Jersey.


Minimum Requirements for Board Certification

At a minimum, the New Jersey program for specialty certification requires attorneys to meet the following criteria for eligibility, the attorney must:

  • be a member in good standing of the New Jersey Bar for at least five years;
  • take a specific number of continuing legal education courses in the three years prior to filing an application;
  • demonstrate substantial involvement in the preparation of litigated matters;
  • have an unblemished reputation by submitting a list of attorneys and judges who will attest to the applicant's character and ability; and
  • pass a written examination covering various aspects of practice in the designated specialty.

The NJ Supreme Court designates attorneys as "certified attorneys" if the attorney does the following:

  • demonstrates sufficient levels of experience, education, knowledge, and skill in a specific area of law or practice;
  • passes a rigorous examination; and
  • gains recognition by their peers as having sufficient skills and reputation in the designated specialty.

Rule 1:39 on Specialty Certification Of Attorneys

Rule 1:39 of the Regulations of the Board on Attorney Certification provides:

Specialty Certification Of Attorneys

An attorney of the State of New Jersey may be certified as a civil trial attorney, a criminal trial attorney, a matrimonial law attorney, a workers’ compensation law attorney, or a municipal court trial attorney, or in more than one designated area of practice, but only on establishing eligibility and satisfying requirements regarding education, experience, knowledge, and skill for each designated area of practice as set forth below.

To assist in the administration of the certification function, the Supreme Court shall establish, in accordance with these rules, a Board on Attorney Certification.

An attorney of the State of New Jersey may be certified as a civil trial attorney, a criminal trial attorney, a matrimonial law attorney, a workers’ compensation law attorney, or a municipal court trial attorney, or in more than one designated area of practice, but only on establishing eligibility and satisfying requirements regarding education, experience, knowledge, and skill for each designated area of practice as set forth below.

To assist in the administration of the certification function, the Supreme Court shall establish, in accordance with these rules, a Board on Attorney Certification.


Additional Resources

Sources of Certification in New Jersey - Visit the website of the American Bar Association to find a current list of lawyer specialty certification programs and a summary description of the offerings of each program.

New Jersey Board on Attorney Certification - Visit the website of the New Jersey Courts for information on the Board on Attorney Certification. In 1980, the Supreme Court of New Jersey established the Board on Attorney Certification to administer the attorney certification program. The attorney certification program in New Jersey helps the public find an attorney who has a recognized level of competence in a particular field of law, protects consumers against false advertising and raises the level of competence of attorneys in New Jersey. Attorneys are may be designated by

 


Contact Information:

Board On Attorney Certification
Supreme Court of New Jersey - Board on Attorney Certification
Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex
P.O. Box 970
25 Market Street
Trenton, NJ 08625-0970
Phone: 609-984-3077
Phone: 609-815-2930
Email to BAC.Mailbox@njcourts.gov

Disclaimer: At Lawyer Legion, we understand the importance of specialty certification programs. We created a feature on our directory to narrow the search to only New Jersey attorneys who have earned specialty certification. 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 New Jersey.


This article was last updated on Friday, December 27, 2019.