Local Government Law in Florida

Attorneys Board Certified in Local Government Law

Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization and EducationCity, County & Local Government Law was established as a field for certification by the Florida Bar in 1996. Under the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, Rule 6-18.1 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 City, County and Local Government Law."

The purpose of the standards is to identify those lawyers who practice city, county and local government law and have the special knowledge, skills, and proficiency to be properly identified to the public as board certified in city, county and local government law.

 FInd a Lawyer in Florida Board Certified in Local Government Law.


Minimum Standards for Certification in Government Law

Rule 6-18.3 provides the minimum standard for becoming a board certified specialist in city, county, and local government law.

(a) Minimum Period of Practice.


The applicant shall have been engaged in the practice of law in the United States, or engaged in the practice of United States law while in a foreign country, and shall have been a member in good standing of the bar of any state of the United States or the District of Columbia for a period of 5 years as of the date of filing an application. The years of law practice need not be consecutive.

Notwithstanding the definition of "practice of law" in rule 6-3.5(c)(1), receipt of an LL.M. degree in urban affairs (or such other related fields approved by the board of legal specialization and education and the city, county and local government certification committee) from an approved law school shall be deemed to constitute 1 year of the practice of law for purpose of the 5-year practice requirement (but not the 5-year bar membership requirement) under this subsection.

However, an applicant may not receive credit for more than 1 year of practice for any 12-month period under this subsection; accordingly, for example, an applicant who, while being engaged in the practice of law, receives an LL.M. degree by attending night classes, would not receive credit for the practice of law requirement by virtue of having received the LL.M. degree.


(b) Substantial Involvement.


The applicant must demonstrate substantial involvement in the practice of Florida city, county and local government law during each of the 3 years immediately preceding the date of application. Upon an applicant's request and the recommendation of the city, county and local government certification committee, the board of legal specialization and education may waive the requirement that each of the 3 years be "immediately preceding" the date of application if the board of legal specialization and education determines the waiver is warranted by special and compelling circumstances.

Substantial involvement means the applicant has devoted 40 percent or more of the applicant's practice to matters in which issues of Florida city, county and local government law are significant factors and in which the applicant had substantial and direct participation in those issues. An applicant must furnish information concerning the frequency of the applicant's work and the nature of the issues involved. For the purpose of this subsection the "practice of law" shall be as defined in rule 6-3.5(c)(1), except that it shall also include time devoted to lecturing and/or authoring books or articles on city, county and local government law if the applicant was otherwise engaged in the practice of law during such period.

Demonstration of compliance with this requirement shall be made initially through a form of questionnaire approved by the city, county and local government certification committee but written or oral supplementation may be required.

(c) Peer Review.


The applicant shall submit the names and addresses of 5 other attorneys who are familiar with the applicant's practice, not including attorneys who are currently employed by the same governmental entity as the applicant or who currently practice in the applicant's law firm, who can attest to the applicant's reputation for special competence and substantial involvement, as well as the applicant's character, ethics, and reputation for professionalism, in the field of city, county and local government law.

Such lawyers themselves shall be substantially involved in Florida city, county and local government law. The board of legal specialization and education and the city, county and local government certification committee may authorize references from persons other than attorneys and may also make such additional inquiries as they deem appropriate to complete peer review, as provided elsewhere in these rules.


(d) Education.


The applicant must demonstrate that during the 3-year period immediately preceding the date of application, the applicant has met the continuing legal education requirements in Florida city, county and local government law as follows: the required number of hours shall be established by the board of legal specialization and education and shall in no event be less than 60 hours.

Credit for attendance at continuing legal education seminars shall be given only for programs that are directly related to Florida city, county and local government law. The education requirement may be satisfied by 1 or more of the following:

(1) attendance at continuing legal education seminars meeting the requirements set forth above;

(2) lecturing at, and/or serving on the steering committee of, such continuing legal education seminars;

(3) authoring articles or books published in professional periodicals or other professional publications;

(4) teaching courses in "city, county and local government law" at an approved law school or other graduate level program presented by a recognized professional education association;

(5) such other methods as may be approved by the board of legal specialization and education and the city, county and local government certification committee.

The board of legal specialization and education or the city, county and local government certification committee shall, by rule or regulation, establish standards applicable to this rule, including, but not limited to, the method of establishment of the number of hours allocable to any of the above listed paragraphs. Such rules or regulations shall provide that hours shall be allocable to each separate but substantially different lecture, article, or other activity described in subsections (2), (3), and (4) above.


(e) Examination.


The applicant must pass a written examination, applied uniformly to all applicants, designed to demonstrate sufficient knowledge, skills, and proficiency in the field of Florida city, county and local government law to justify the representation of special competence to the legal profession and the public.

Recertification as a Specialist in Government Law in Florida

Rule 6-18.4 provides the rules for recertification in government law in Florida. Recertification shall be pursuant to the following standards:

(a) Substantial Involvement.


A satisfactory showing, as determined by the board of legal specialization and education and the city, county and local government certification committee, of continuous and substantial involvement in the field of Florida city, county and local government 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 6-18.3(b), except that the board of legal specialization and education and the city, county and local government certification committee may accept an affidavit from the applicant attesting to the applicant's compliance with the substantial involvement requirement.


(b) Education.


Completion of at least 60 hours of continuing legal education since the filing of the last application for certification (or recertification). The continuing legal education must logically be expected to enhance the proficiency of attorneys who are board certified city, county and local government lawyers. If the applicant has not attained 60 hours of continuing legal education, but has attained more than 30 hours during such period, successful passage of the written examination given by the board of legal specialization and education to new applicants shall satisfy the continuing legal education requirements.


(c) Peer Review.


The applicant shall submit the names and addresses of 3 other attorneys who are familiar with the applicant’s practice, not including attorneys who are currently employed by the same governmental entity as the applicant or who currently practice in the applicant’s law firm, who can attest to the applicant’s reputation for special competence and substantial involvement, as well as the applicant’s character, ethics, and reputation for professionalism, in the field of city, county and local government law.

Such lawyers themselves shall be substantially involved in Florida city, county and local government law. The board of legal specialization and education and the city, county and local government certification committee may authorize references from persons other than attorneys and may also make such additional inquiries as they deem appropriate to complete peer review, as provided elsewhere in these rules.


(d) Examination.


If, after reviewing the material submitted by an applicant for recertification, the board of legal specialization and education and the city, county and local government certification committee determine that the applicant may not meet the standards in city, county and local government law established under this chapter, the board of legal specialization and education and the city, county and local government certification committee may require, as a condition of recertification, that the applicant pass the written examination given by the board of legal specialization and education to new applicants.


Additional Resources

Local Government Board Certification in Florida - Visit the Florida Bar website to find information on City, County & Local Government Law Certification including the definition of "city, county and local government law." For attorneys thinking of becoming certified, find a summary of the minimum requirements, the application for initial board certification and recertification, the deadlines to submit the applications. Also find Exam Specifications, Sample Examination Questions, Committee Policies, and Standards for Certification Of A Board Certified City, County & Local Government Law Lawyer under the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar 6-18.