Step 1: Register for the examination
Step 2: Gain experience, complete education and secure references, either before or after the examination.
You are eligible to register if you are licensed with the State Bar of California, you have practiced in the specialty area since January 2016 for at least 25 percent of the time and you can complete and file your application documenting the remaining education, experience and references by January 2021.
Get full details about the examination on our examination information page.
The Department of Legal Specialization is not affiliated with any commercial preparation class and derives no financial benefit from any educational provider. The department provides this information solely for your convenience.
In 2017, certified specialist examination results will be sent via U.S. mail on March 15, 2018 to the address listed in your State Bar profile.
If you passed the 2015 certified specialist examination, you have until April 27, 2017 to file your post-examination application or email a letter to firstname.lastname@example.org addressed to the California Board of Legal Specialization requesting an extension for good cause. Extensions cannot be granted beyond January 2019. The most common reason an extension is requested is because a person has not yet completed the full five years in practice required for a review of the application.
After passing the examination, you will complete your candidate package for certification by filing a post-examination application documenting your experience, 45 hours of continuing education in the field and positive peer references. This experience may have taken place before or after the examination.
The Department of Legal Specialization will send out questionnaires to your references. Once the references have been returned, your application will be complete. An advisory committee with expertise in your area of law will review the applications and provide a recommendation to the California Board of Legal Specialization, who will make the final certification decision. The process generally takes about six months from the time you file your post-examination application.
In order to maintain your certification, you will need to meet the following requirements: