The State Bar certifies attorneys as specialists who have gone beyond the standard licensing requirements.
California Rule of Court 9.35 served as the basis for the creation of the State Bar Legal Specialization program. The program was intended to provide a method for attorneys to earn the designation of certified specialist in particular areas of law, increasing public protection and encouraging attorney competence.
The program was the first of its kind in the United States, and it has served as a model for other state programs for certifying legal specialists around the nation.
The general requirements to become a certified specialist include:
The State Bar’s Board of Legal Specialization must approve each attorney’s application. Organizations whose certification program is State Bar-accredited can also certify attorneys, but their certification requirements must equal or exceed those of the State Bar of California’s program.
Once certified, specialists must maintain their certification by completing and reporting ongoing tasks and experience by every five years. They must also report 36 hours of education every three years along with their MCLE compliance group.
Certified specialists in Compliance Group 1 (last names beginning with A-G upon admittance) are due to report compliance of the 36 hours of legal specialist education requirement by Feb. 1, 2019.
Certified specialists in Compliance Group 3 (last names beginning with N-Z upon admittance) are due to report compliance of the 36 hours of legal specialist education requirement by Feb. 1, 2020.
Full details about qualifying equivalents are available in this informational letter. To report compliance, complete and submit the Group 2 compliance card to firstname.lastname@example.org.