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Why Lawyer Specialty Certification Makes a Difference

Four personal injury lawyers walk down a hallway.

When hiring a lawyer, consumers feel uncertain about how to tell a good lawyer from a bad one. According to a study by the ABA Section of Litigation, consumers find legal services among the most difficult services to buy. While many lawyers “specialize” – that is, concentrate their practice within one, or at most a few, fields of law – consumer confusion remains. This difficulty has been mitigated in recent years, however, by the process of specialty certification. Read on to discover why finding a certified specialty lawyer may make the crucial difference for you–especially in the case of personal injury.

Why Board Certification?

The initial efforts to develop legal specialist certification programs reflected a process for complying with ethical rules relating to lawyer advertising. But as more experience with these programs has been gained and as more certified specialists have become involved in bar and law firm leadership positions, board certification is becoming an accepted measure of professionalism and commitment to specialty practice. There is ample evidence demonstrating that certification of specialists can have a beneficial impact on practicing lawyers, clients and the legal profession.

History & Overview

The proliferation of lawyer specialty advertising led states to adopt state-sponsored certification plans, beginning in the late 1970s and the early 1980s. Lawyer specialist certification programs have flourished in this new regulatory environment. They certify those lawyers who are found to possess a certain level of skill and expertise in a specialty, as evidenced by results on special examinations, peer references, experience and continuing legal education requirements. The certification programs are voluntary. No lawyer is prohibited from practicing in a specialty field, and certified lawyers can practice outside their field of certification. The majority of lawyers who have been certified have been granted their credentials by traditional state-sponsored programs administered by state supreme courts and state bar associations on the court’s behalf.

Basic Requirements

In general, a certified specialist is a lawyer who devotes a substantial portion of her practice to a specialty and has been recognized by a certifying organization as having an enhanced level of experience, skill and expertise in that specialty. Certification programs require a lawyer to demonstrate special training, experience and knowledge to insure the lawyer’s recognition as a certified specialist is meaningful and reliable. In order to maintain the certification credential, most programs require recertification every three to five years, with the certification subject to revocation if the lawyer fails to continue to meet the program requirements or is sanctioned by a disciplinary authority.

Conclusion – Nelson Personal Injury & Certification

For more than 30 years, the attorneys at Nelson Personal Injury have been representing clients throughout Minnesota who have suffered a serious personal injury, the wrongful death of a loved one, or were victims of medical malpractice. Since 1992, Timothy W. Nelson has been certified as a Civil Trial Specialist by the Minnesota State Bar Association. Less than 3% of all attorneys in Minnesota are certified as Civil Trial Specialists.

Nelson Personal Injury is here to help. We know that you will have many questions about your rights and the claim process. Visit our homepage HERE to receive a free case evaluation, or call us today at (320)-252-1200. All consultations with our experienced Personal Injury attorneys are confidential and without obligation.

Note: This article uses information adapted from a 2011 article by the Standing Committee on Specialization of the American Bar Association. The full article may be accessed at the link below.

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