Why Board Certification is Important

WHAT IS THE ADVANTAGE OF HAVING A BOARD CERTIFIED LAWYER?

Less than 2% of Tennessee lawyers are board certified. Certification is important to you because it assures you that a specific lawyer’s skills, integrity, and experience have been carefully scrutinized by a national board of experts and found to be exceptional. The certified lawyer knows how to handle insurance companies that are trying to pay you as little as possible. And equally important is the fact that the insurance companies know that a board certified lawyer has the skill and experience to take the case to trial if the offer is unfair.

Your most powerful advantage is a lawyer known to be a highly skilled trial lawyer. The odds are much greater that such a lawyer will be able to successfully negotiate an out-of-court settlement for you.


WHAT IS THE NATIONAL BOARD OF LEGAL SPECIALTY CERTIFICATION?

The National Board of Legal Specialty Certification, or NBLSC, was created in the public interest to identify lawyers who demonstrate that they are skilled, capable, ethical trial lawyers.

In the area of medical services, we are all familiar with board certification of physicians. When we see that a doctor is board certified, we know that the doctor has been tested and examined by an independent group of physicians who have verified that the doctor is properly qualified and skilled in his or her field of practice.

In the world of legal services, there was nothing comparable to the system for board certifying doctors. The NBLSC came into existence because a small group of highly-respected lawyers of national reputation realized that most people who need a lawyer do not have any reliable way to identify which lawyers are truly capable and competent and which ones are not. The consumer of legal services needed something like the consumer of medical services – a system that publicly identified lawyers as “board certified”.

This small group of consumer-oriented lawyers decided to create an organization that would identify to the public ethical lawyers who were determined to be sufficiently skilled and experienced to be called Board Certified. In 1977, that is exactly what they did. Led by Theodore Koskoff, a brilliant and dedicated lawyer, the NBLSC was founded.

Accredited by the American Bar Association, the National Board Legal Specialty Certification maintains rigorous standards for the certification of civil, criminal, and family law trial advocates.

The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed NBLSC’s mission and purpose, finding that “Information about certification and specialties facilitates the consumer’s access to legal services and thus better serves the administration of justice.” The Supreme Court went on to say that the NBLSC’s certification “both serve the public interest and encourages the development and utilization of meritorious certification programs for attorneys” Peel v. Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of Illinois 110 S.CT. 2281 (1990).


WHY SHOULD IT MATTER?

Why should it matter to me whether my lawyer is a board certified trial lawyer? I want my case resolved without having to go to trial.

Virtually 98% of civil cases never actually go to trial. This is because they are settled out of court.

What will motivate your opponent to want to settle with you out of court? If you are represented by an experienced trial lawyer who is making a reasonable request for settlement on your behalf, the opposition knows it would probably be foolish to take the case to trial against an experienced, skilled litigator.

On the other hand, if the opposition knows something you don’t know – that your lawyer has virtually no experience in court or has demonstrated a serious lack of skill in court – the opposition is much less likely to meet your settlement demands because they feel confident about their chances of success against your lawyer in court.

For these reasons, the most powerful advantage you can have is a lawyer who is known to be a highly-skilled trial lawyer. The odds are much greater that such a lawyer will be able to successfully negotiate an out-of-court settlement for you.

Litigation is often times compared to war. In litigation, as in war, the side with the greatest skill and experience is usually able to avoid conflict because the opposition is not willing to risk the consequences against such a capable opponent.

Therefore, as strange as it may seem at first, your chances of successfully resolving your case out of court are much better when you are represented by a skilled, experienced trial lawyer who is well-known and respected by the opposition. The NBTA simply makes these lawyers known to the public by identifying them as “Board Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy.”


WHAT MUST LAWYERS DO TO BE “CERTIFIED” BY THE ORGANIZATION?

  1. They must submit a list of names of judges and lawyers who are contacted by the NBTA to independently verify the lawyer’s skill, experience and even the lawyer’s reputation for ethical and professional conduct.
  2. They must establish that they are in good standing with their state bar association.
  3. They must pass a day-long written examination.
  4. They must submit actual copies of their written legal work for review.
  5. They must provide documentation to prove their active involvement in multiple trials before judges and juries.

In order to keep his certification active, the lawyer must obtain continuing legal education and remain in good ethical standing with the bar association.

Every National Board of Legal Specialty Certification attorney has met, and continues to meet, NBTA’s rigorous standards for certification illustrating nothing less than:

  • High Ethical Standards
  • Extensive Experience in the Designated Specialty
  • Hefty Participation in the Development of Law and Continuing Legal Education
  • Outstanding Peer and Judicial Commendations
  • Demonstrated Practical Skill in the Designated Specialty

For more information, please contact:

THE NATIONAL BOARD of LEGAL SPECIALTY CERTIFICATION
200 Stonewall Boulevard, Suite 1
Wrentham, Massachusetts 02093
508-384-6565
www.nblsc.us