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Should you pursue board certification?

Certification Specialist/ Communications Coordinator at The Florida Bar Columns

Board Certification logoClose to 91,000 lawyers are currently eligible to practice law in Florida and more are entering the field each year – whether graduating from Florida law schools or transferring from other states.

As the legal landscape grows increasingly competitive, board certified lawyers are able to use their status to set themselves apart from peers. And a growing number of Bar members are exploring board certification to help stand out in what they see as a crowded landscape.

Board certification, approved by the Florida Supreme Court and established in 1982, is administered by The Florida Bar not only to strengthen the skills and expertise of the lawyer, but to help the public in their decision-making process.

As the highest level of evaluation available for Florida lawyers, certification tests the competency and expertise of lawyers in those areas of law approved for certification. After undergoing certification and becoming board certified, lawyers can then market themselves as “Evaluated for Professionalism and Tested for Expertise.”

But does board certification matter to prospective clients? You bet it does. A 2020 statewide survey found that board certification in a legal specialization or practice area by The Florida Bar is the most important factor considered by Floridians when selecting a lawyer, even more than client testimonials and ratings on legal directories. Additionally, that same survey found that being board certified can increase client selection of an attorney by 25% to 40%, making the certification a natural approach to set yourself apart from colleagues and an important part of your five-year plan.

Florida’s legal ranks currently feature over 5,000 board-certified attorneys, offering expertise in 27 areas of law. With just one in 20 Florida Bar members able to call themselves “board certified,” it clearly is a crucial component in the career of any attorney looking to emerge from the crowd.

Each area of law has different standards for certification, but they all maintain common minimum standards, including:

  • A minimum of five years of law practice
  • Substantial involvement in the particular field of law for which the lawyer is seeking certification
  • A passing grade on the examination
  • Peer review of competence in the specific field of law, as well as character, ethics, and professionalism in the practice of law
  • The satisfaction of the certification area’s CLE requirements

Board certification remains valid for five years, and then a similar process is required for recertification.

Certification establishes an independent measure of competence, professionalism, and peer acknowledgment that helps clients and fellow lawyers set expectations for professional abilities. This high level of verifiable expertise can help both prospective clients and counsel seeking to refer legal matters, and can help lawyers grow their practice with matters in which they can best utilize their expertise.

With so many in the field facing new concerns about the future, board certification has never been more worth considering and pursuing. There’s no better way to set yourself apart and elevate your practice for the future.

For more information and to see if pursuing board certification is right for you, visit FloridaBar.org/Certification.

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