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 Legal Specialization program is now administered through the Admissions Information Management System (AIMS) community.
Through AIMS, licensees can register for the Legal Specialist Examination, apply for initial certification or recertification, report Legal Specialist Continuing Legal Education (LSCLE) Compliance, or submit other legal specialization requests. Current certified specialists can find initial certification dates, current certification terms, and LSCLE compliance dates all in AIMS.
All California licensees have a current AIMS account. Note that a new account should not be registered or created. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you need assistance logging into AIMS, have issues accessing your account, or to verify your username.
Note that (1) the AIMS community and your My State Bar Profile utilize separate login credentials; and (2) any updates to your contact information in the AIMS community do not affect your information in your My State Bar Profile, or vice-versa.
The general requirements to become a certified specialist include:
The State Bar of California 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 Legal Specialist Continuing Legal Education (LSCLE) 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 LSCLE 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 LSCLE requirement by Feb. 1, 2020.
Certified specialists in Compliance Group 2 (last names beginning with H-M upon admittance) are due to report compliance of the 36 hour LSCLE requirement by Feb. 1, 2021.
Full details about qualifying equivalents are available in this informational letter. To report compliance, complete and submit the Group 1 compliance card to email@example.com.
Which areas does the California Board of Legal Specialization certify directly?