The Florida Bar
Selecting an Attorney Specializing in Appellate Practice

Maybe you have never needed the services of an attorney before; but now you do. Obviously, you want an attorney who can handle your particular legal situation, and who has experience and expertise in the area of law relating to your legal needs.

To assist you in finding such a lawyer, the Supreme Court of Florida directed The Florida Bar to offer a "Board Certification" program for Florida Bar members. The program is designed to help the public make an informed decision when seeking and selecting a lawyer.

While all lawyers are allowed to advertise, only certified attorneys are allowed to identify themselves as "Florida Bar Board Certified" or as a "specialist." Certification is the highest level of recognition by The Florida Bar of the competency and experience of attorneys in the areas of law approved for certification by the Supreme Court of Florida.

A lawyer who is a member in good standing of The Florida Bar and who meets the standards prescribed by the state's Supreme Court, may become a "Board Certified Appellate Lawyer."

Certified lawyers in appellate practice deal with recognition and preservation of error committed by lower tribunals, and the presentation of argument concerning the presence or absence of such error to state or federal appellate courts through brief writing, writ and motion practice and oral argument. Appellate practice includes evaluation and consultation regarding potential appellate issues or remedies in connection with proceedings in the lower tribunals.

Every lawyer certified in appellate practice has practiced law on a full-time basis for at least five years. The 5 years of appellate practice shall include brief writing, motion practice, oral arguments, and extraordinary writs at the appellate level. At least three years of this practice shall be immediately preceding application or, during up to 2 of those 3 years, the applicant may have served as an appellate judge or as clerk of an appellate court, career attorney or staff attorney in excess of 3 years for an appellate court. Each certified lawyer has had substantial involvement -- 30 percent or more -- in appellate practice during the three years immediately preceding application. Each certified lawyer has passed peer review, completed 45 hours of continuing legal education within the three years immediately preceding application and passed a written examination demonstrating knowledge, skills and proficiency in the field of appellate practice to justify the representation of special competence.

Board certification is valid for five years, during which time the attorney must continue to practice law and attend Florida Bar-approved continuing legal education courses. To be recertified, requirements similar to those for initial certification must be met. Not all qualified lawyers are certified, but those who are board certified have taken the extra step to have their competence and experience recognized.

Appellate Practice Certification was approved by the Supreme Court of Florida in 1993.

The Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization and Education operates under the authority of the Supreme Court of Florida. The certification program and any supporting materials or activities are not funded by the general revenues of The Florida Bar.

For more information, please contact:
The Florida Bar
Legal Specialization & Education Department
651 E. Jefferson Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2300

[Revised: 07-10-2009]