Why Choose a Board Certified Lawyer?
Board Certification is a mark of excellence and a distinguished accomplishment within the Texas legal community.
Consumers and organizations get the highest quality of legal services when working with Board Certified lawyers — having substantial experience, the respect of their peers, and proven specialized competence in their select area of law. Out of 110,000 lawyers that are licensed to practice in Texas, only 7,200 are Board Certified.
Lawyers become Board Certified after applying to the Texas Board of Legal Specialization or (TBLS). TBLS was created on July 16, 1974 by the State Bar of Texas. The Supreme Court of Texas Approved the Texas Plan for Recognition and Regulation of Specialization in the Law in September of 2010. The plan was previously approved in January of 2004.
The Purpose and of the Texas Plan for Recognition and Regulation of Specialization in the Law is to promote the availability, accessibility and quality of the services of attorneys to the public in particular areas of the law.
The State Bar of Texas established a Texas Board of Legal Specialization composed of twelve members appointed by the President of the State Bar of Texas with approval of its Board of Directors. The Texas Board of Legal Specialization is staffed only by licensed attorneys some of whom specialize and some who are in general practice. The members hold office for three years and until their successors are appointed. Members are appointed to three year staggered terms of office.
The Jurisdiction of the Texas Board of Legal Specialization is over all matters pertaining to specialization in the practice of law and have the authority to administer the program for recognition and regulation of specialization in the law.
The TBLS may also define and designate areas of law in which certificates of specialization may be granted and provide procedures by which such areas may be determined, redefined, or eliminated. The TBLS also determines testing standards, practices, and times.
Minimum Standards for Certification are established by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Each area of Specialization has different standards but all have the following requirements under the Texas Plan for Recognition and Regulation of Specialization in the Law:
1. A minimum of five (5) years of actual practice of the law on a full time basis.
2. A satisfactory showing, as determined by the TBLS, after advice from the appropriate Advisory Commission, of a substantial involvement in the particular area of law for which certification is sought for such reasonable period of time immediately preceding certification as may be determined by the TBLS after advice form the Advisory Commission.
3. A satisfactory showing, as determined by the TBLS, after advice from the appropriate Advisory Commission, of such educational experience in the particular area of law for which certification is sought as the TBLS deems advisable.
4. Passing a written examination applied uniformly to all applicants before certification to demonstrate sufficient knowledge, proficiency and experience in the area of law for which certification is sought and in the various areas of law relating to such area as is necessary to justify the representation of special competence to the legal profession and to the public.
5. Passing an oral examination, if determined to be advisable by the TBLS, with the advice of the appropriate Advisory Commission.
Only attorneys who have met these requirements and others specific to each area of law may advertise themselves to be Board Certified.
Brian Foley is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.