It may have only 14 members and not have added any new members for several years, but the Bar Board of Governors has decided that’s not sufficient reason to phase out board certification for Antitrust and Trade Regulation Law.
The board at its May 23 meeting rejected, by a 15-25 vote, the recommendation of the Program Evaluation Committee to sunset that certification area. That recommendation would allow the 14 currently certified lawyers to maintain that certification while the Board of Legal Specialization and Education studies how they should be handled.
President-elect designate Ray Abadin, chair of the PEC, noted that the committee has been studying the Antitrust and Trade Regulation Law certification area since 2009, and during that time its membership has declined from 20 to 14.
He said PEC looked unsuccessfully at merging it with another certification area and also tried and failed to attract more members. The last time an attorney took the exam for that area was in 2008, Abadin said, and the size of the ATR certification committee was reduced from nine to five because there weren’t enough willing active members to serve. That was done with the understanding that PEC would review the continuance of that certification area, Abadin said.
But some board members argued that size shouldn’t necessarily matter when considering the viability of a certification area.
“The purpose of certification is to assist the public in identifying people who are specialists in a certain area,” said board member Michael Tanner.
“If that’s the case, then allowing this certification area to continue as long as we have active members in it advances that goal.”
Because it is a highly specialized area of practice, he added, it would inherently have only a small number of members.
But board member Richard Tanner said there are other successful small certification areas with active committees and lawyers seeking to join.
“Functioning means more than paying your dues and saying you’re a member,” he said.
Bar President Eugene Pettis spoke against abolishing the ATR certification.
“I think it is prejudicial to smaller certified groups,” he said. “I still haven’t heard what’s broken. This whole certification program should not be just for the big guys.”
On related issues, President-elect Greg Coleman told the board that over the next year he wants the PEC to review the BLSE and all certified areas.
And Abadin said PEC has approved a new certification area in Juvenile Law, which will come to the board for its approval at its July 25 meeting.