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 following code books provide examples of the books approved for use during both sessions of the Legal Specialist Examination. Note that textbooks or hornbooks should not be brought into the testing room:
The Department of Legal Specialization does not teach an examination preparation course. The Department has been advised of the following private preparation classes:
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.
2017 Legal 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 Legal Specialist Examination, you must file your post-examination application by April 27, 2017 or a draft a letter by that date to the California Board of Legal Specialization requesting an extension for good cause shown to firstname.lastname@example.org . 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.
As mentioned above, 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.
You can fulfill the experience, education and references required in this application before you take the examination or up to three years and three months after the examination (January 2021 for the 2017 examination).
The general Rules Governing the State Bar of California Program for Certifying Legal Specialists in conjunction with the Standards for Certification in Immigration and Nationality Law (revised 11/19/10) describe all requirements. The post-examination application can serve as a guide to help you gather your materials.
Once a candidate passes the examination and completes and submits a post-examination application, the application review process will begin.
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:
Questions? Contact the Department of Legal Specialization at email@example.com or at 415-538-2120.