National Board of Legal Specialty Certification (formerly National Board of Trial Advocacy)
One of the more frightening tasks many people face is identification of a lawyer who is competent to try a lawsuit to a verdict. The Bar in many states does not sponsor or endorse any specialty certification, so consumers may find it difficult to identify lawyers with specific areas of competence.
In an attempt to raise the standards for lawyers throughout the United States who undertake to represent clients in litigation through a trial, several National Boards have been established, and have been recognized by the American Bar Association.
The National Board of Legal Specialty Certification has been accredited by the American Bar Association to certify lawyers in the specialty areas of civil trial law, criminal trial law, family trial law and social security disability advocacy law. Since certification by NBTA is voluntary, a board certified attorney has taken the extra time and effort to meet all the standards set forth by the NBTA. Recertification is required every five years. It is similar in philosophy to the medical profession wherein many medical doctors are board certified in a. specific area of practice.
The National Board of Legal Specialty Certification is an outgrowth of the National Board of Trial Advocacy which was created in 1977, in response to Chief Justice Warren Burger of the Supreme Court of the United States, who observed that "some system of certification for trial advocates is an imperative and long overdue step." Burger, The Special Skills of Advocacy: Are Specialized Training and Certification of Advocates Essential to Our System of Justice? 42 Fordham L.Rev. 227 (1973.).
In order to become certified, an attorney must meet and document the following:
- At least five years as a practicing attorney
- Concentration in the field of concentration
- Completion of at least fifteen trials to verdict or judgment, as well as forty additional matters
- Continuing legal education in the field of trial advocacy
- Review of a writing sample in the form of a trial court brief
- Proof of good standing in the profession
- Successful completion of a day long written examination.
- Certification is for a period of five years, after which time the attorney must meet the requirements for recertification. These requirements include: continuing legal education, peer review, proof of good standing in the profession and, of course, an active trial practice.
Presently, there are over 1300 attorneys certified nationwide in Civil Trial Advocacy. Out of approximately 43,000 lawyers admitted in Georgia, only 18 are board certified in Civil Trial Advocacy and 12 are board certified in Civil Pretrial Advocacy.