When looking for the right lawyer to handle your accident case, you will notice that only some lawyers advertise that they are Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law. But what does that really mean?
In Texas, Board Certification means an attorney has substantial, relevant experience in a select field of law as well as demonstrated, and tested, special competence in that area of law. Only 10% of the 70,000 attorneys in Texas have earned the right to call themselves a specialist in their field by achieving Board Certification.
To become Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law, a lawyer must:
1) devote a minimum of 25% of his practice to personal injury trial law for the three years preceding his application;
2) try a minimum of ten contested jury trials, five of which must be personal injury cases. The lawyer must have spend twenty days in trial at least ten of which must have been personal injury trials.
3) submit at least five references (including at least one Texas judge) who have knowledge of the individual’s trial abilities, and’
4) take and pass the day-long comprehensive Board Certification exam.
In order to get re-certified (which must be done every five years), the lawyer must devote at least 25% of his/her practice to personal injury law and complete a total of 100 hours of continuing legal education during the preceding five years.
The exam itself and the requirements are promulgated by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Board Certification is a way of demonstrating that a particular attorney has taken the time to learn his area of law and has obtained substantial experience in the field.
In Texas, the advertising rules for attorneys prohibit a lawyer from holding himself out as an expert in a particular are a of practice. The only exception to this is that a lawyer who is Board Certified in a particular area of practice may so state in his advertisements. It is against the rules of ethics for a lawyer who is not Board Certified to claim that he is.
Consumers can locate a Board Certified attorney by going to the Texas Board of Legal Specialization’s website. In addition to a collection of other resources on how to evaluate and select your attorney, they maintain a list of all attorneys who are Board Certified in their various fields including contact information and a link to their website. This is a great place to begin your search when you are looking for legal representation.