The Florida Bar
www.floridabar.org
Selecting an Attorney Specializing in Criminal Trial

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 Criminal Trial Lawyer" or "Board Certified Criminal Appellate Lawyer."

Certified lawyers in criminal trial law are involved in investigation, evaluation, pleading, discovery, taking of testimony, presentation of evidence, and argument of jury and nonjury cases.

Every lawyer certified in criminal trial law has practiced law on a full-time basis for at least five years. To become certified the lawyer must have handled 25 criminal cases with at least 20 jury trials, tried to verdict, at least 15 of which involved a felony. Ten trials must have been tried with the lawyer as lead counsel. Each certified lawyer has had substantial involvement -- 30 percent or more -- in the practice of criminal trial law during the three years preceding application.

Every lawyer certified in criminal appellate has practiced law on a full-time basis for at least five years. To become certified the lawyer must have handled 25 criminal appeals. Each criminal appellate certified lawyer has had substantial involvement -- 30 percent or more -- in the practice of criminal appellate law during the three years immediately preceding application.

Each certified lawyer must also have passed peer review, has completed 45 hours of continuing legal education within three years preceding application and has passed a written examination demonstrating knowledge, skills and proficiency in the field of criminal trial law 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.

Criminal Law (Trial and Appellate) Certification was approved by the Supreme Court of Florida in 1987.

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
800/342-8060
850/561-5842

[Revised: 07-10-2009]