Many people are most familiar with board certified doctors, but lawyers can be board certified as well. Board certified lawyers are attorneys who have met the standards of certification boards in their jurisdictions. The standards set for certification vary from board to board, but most restrict certification to lawyers who demonstrate legal knowledge and skill and are committed to the practice of law in an ethical and competent manner. In may cases, certification is granted to such lawyers based on the results of legal examinations, peer reviews and references, experience, and continuing education in the legal field.
While lawyers usually have to complete extensive education and pass licensing exams to practice law, this doesn't necessarily prove they are competent or the best choice for legal representation. To gain an added measure of confidence in an attorney's knowledge and ability, a person may prefer to choose one who has earned board certification. Board certified lawyers have taken steps to prove their knowledge, competence, and commitment to ethical practice to a legal board. Often, these lawyers have proven their skill in a particular legal specialization as well. For example, a lawyer may seek board certification as a bankruptcy, criminal, family, civil, or business lawyer rather than as a general lawyer.
Board certification does not mean a lawyer will win all or even most of his cases; it does not provide a legal client with any guarantees that his lawyer’s performance will be satisfactory. It may, however, boost a potential client’s confidence that his lawyer has been well trained and has performed in a competent manner in the past. This is due to the fact that becoming board certified is usually a rigorous process that includes testing and peer reviews. Often, boards require certification candidates to have years of experience practicing law with a specific percentage of that time spent handling cases in their areas of specialization. In addition, many boards require certification candidates to earn continuing education credits in the legal field as well.
The requirements board certified lawyers have to meet to become board certified may differ from legal board to legal board. As such, a person seeking certification typically has to contact the specific board through which he wants to be certified for criteria. Likewise, a potential legal client may contact the board or view its website to learn the qualifications a lawyer had to meet to become board certified.