Ohio State Bar Association
The certification programs allow attorneys to voluntarily submit to an intensive evaluation process, which looks at whether the attorney has a high level of substantial involvement in the specialty area of the law, whether the attorney has meet certain continuing legal education (CLE) requirements, and whether the attorney has been evaluated favorably by other attorneys who are familiar with the attorney's practice.
Attorneys may only state or imply they are a specialist in a field if they have been certified by an organization accredited by the CCAS.
Benefits of Becoming a Certified Attorney Specialist in Ohio
Board-certified Ohio lawyers are permitted under the Bar Rules in Ohio to use certain phrases in their marketing efforts that other attorneys are not permitted to use. For example, the attorneys can use the phrase “certified by the Ohio State Bar Association.” Those statements can be used in advertising and on the attorney's business cards and letterhead. Ohio Bar Rules prevent attorneys from using the term "specialist" or "expert" or "board certified" unless they have been certified in that specialty area of the law.
Requirements to Become a Certified Attorney Specialist in Ohio
The specific requirements to become a certified attorney specialist in Ohio vary depending on the specialty area. After the attorney is certified, the attorney must file a written report each year. The attorney must also renew the certification every four to seven years.
The general requirements to become a certified specialist include:
- Passing a written examination that will test the attorney's knowledge about the specialty area of the law;
- Showing continuing and substantial involvement in the specialty area of law;
- Maintain professional liability insurance with a specified amount of coverage;
- Providing proof that the attorney has attended or taught continuing legal eduction (CLE) classes on topics closely related to the specialty area of practice; and
- Submitting references from judges and attorneys familiar with the attorney's practice who can attest to the attorney's competence in the specialty field.
OSBA Attorney Specialization Areas
The Supreme Court of Ohio Commission on Certification of Attorneys has certified the Ohio State Bar Association as the certifying agency for 10 specialty areas. The Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) is the largest certifying agency in Ohio. The OSBA may certify attorneys for the following specialty practice areas defined in the Attorney Information & Standards of the Ohio State Bar Association as follow:
- Administrative Agency Law -- The practice of law that involves the activities of agencies at the local, state and federal levels, including, but not limited to: licensing, regulation and government benefits. For purposes of this certification, it includes matters involving the Ohio Administrative Agency Procedure Act (RC Chapter 119), local government Administrative Agency matters governed by RC Chapter 2506, and proceedings pursuant to the federal Administrative Agency Procedures Act. It also includes, without limitation, the representation of clients before Administrative Agency agencies, the practice of law within those agencies, and Administrative Agency/judicial proceedings involving those agencies.
- Appellate Law - Deals primarily with practice before state and federal appellate courts. It is distinct from, although complementary to, trial advocacy. Appellate Law emphasizes critical analysis and written advocacy but includes oral advocacy skills as well. This discipline includes consultation regarding the identification and preservation of error at all stages of litigation, and the analysis of public policy goals and constitutional principles in the highest state and federal courts. Appellate Law embraces actions within the original jurisdiction of appellate courts, as well as those matters within the courts’ appellate jurisdiction.
- Business, Commercial and Industrial Real Property Law - The practice of law that involves acquisition, ownership, leasing, management, financing, developing, use, transfer and disposition of investment, business, commercial and industrial real property including title examination and determination of property rights.
- Elder Law -- The legal practice of counseling and representing older persons and their representatives about the legal aspects of health and long-term care planning, public benefits, surrogate decision-making, older persons' legal capacity, the conservation, disposition and administration of older persons' estates and the implementation of their decisions concerning such matters, giving due consideration to the applicable tax consequences of the action, or the need for more sophisticated tax expertise.
- Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law -- The practice of law that involves analysis and planning for the conservation and deposition of estates during lifetime and at death, preparing legal instruments to effectuate such planning, and counseling fiduciaries, while giving due consideration to the applicable trust, probate, income, estate and gift tax laws.
- Insurance Coverage Law -- Insurance Coverage Law is the area of law involving issues between insurers and policyholders concerning the rights and responsibilities that arise under insurance policies.
- Family Relations Law -- The practice of law that involves counseling clients in the resolution of disputes and with the termination of marriage by divorce, dissolution, or annulment, and all related issues, such as legal separation; paternity; child support and the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities; division of property; and spousal support both in alternative dispute resolution processes and in court.
- Federal Taxation Law -- The practice of law in the areas of individual, partnership, corporate and fiduciary federal income tax, estate and gift tax, tax-exempt organizations, qualified plans and other federal taxes requiring a substantive and procedural knowledge of the Internal Revenue Code and Regulations, Internal Revenue Service rulings and federal taxation case law.
- Labor and Employment Law --The practice of law dealing with the relationships among employers, employees and their labor organizations, except workers’ compensation. It includes all aspects of labor relations (private and public sectors), occupational safety and health, employment discrimination, wage and hour, employee benefits and employment-related torts and contracts. This definition includes all forms of labor and employment litigation, arbitration, mediation, negotiations and other forms of alternative dispute resolution before all federal, state and local courts, agencies and private tribunals.
- Residential Real Property Law -- The practice of law that involves acquisition, ownership, leasing, financing, use, transfer and disposition of residential real property by individuals, including title examination and determination of property rights.
- Workers’ Compensation Law -- The practice of law that involves employees' rights, employers' defenses, and benefits provided for workplace accidents. The procedural scope of Ohio Workers' Compensation practice includes all activities before the Ohio Industrial Commission and Bureau of Workers' Compensation, as well as jury trials and attendant appellate practice.
Other Entities that Certify Ohio Attorneys
In other specialty areas, the Supreme Court of Ohio Commission on Certification of Attorneys accredits certain non-profit organizations to certify Ohio attorneys as specialists. For these third party organizations, each must undergo continuous and intensive review to show compliance with the standards established for certification.
The National Elder Law Foundation is permitted to certify Ohio attorneys as a specialist for Elder Law.
The American Board of Certification is permitted to certify Ohio attorneys as a specialist in the following approved practice areas:
The National Board of Legal Specialty Certification is permitted to certify Ohio attorneys as a specialist in the following approved practice areas:
OSBA Informational Video on Attorney Specialty Certification
The Ohio State Bar Association produced a video featuring law partners Bill Friedman, Denise Mirman and Scott Friedman of Friedman & Mirman Co., LPA in Columbus, Ohio. These attorneys explain why they became certified as family relations law specialists through the Ohio State Bar Association's attorney specialization program. The video is featured on the OSBA YouTube channel.
For More Information Contact:
Ohio State Bar Association
P.O. Box 16562
Columbus, OH 43216
Phone: (614) 487-2050
Toll Free: (800) 282-6556
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 Ohio. This article was last updated on Friday, November 22, 2019.