Winter 2009

Newsletter One

Certification is one way to achieve individual recognition, enhance self-esteem, and gain respect in the legal world. Certification enhances the credibility of the individual and the profession, as well as providing clients with confident representation!


We're shaking things up this year - why? Because you asked for it! We are planning a powerful group process that supports positive transformation in organizations, increases productivity, inspires creative solutions, improves communication and enhances collaboration. Are you interested? Registration opening soon!

We can't wait to see you there - we're sure you'll be pleasantly surprised!


Floridian News

More Than 150 Lawyers Earn Board Certification in 2009; One-Third are YLD Members. The Board of Legal Specialization & Education welcomes 157 lawyers in 18 specialty areas of legal practice who earned Florida Bar board certification during the first and second cycles of 2009. An impressive 31 percent are Young Lawyers Division members. Florida Bar President Jesse H. Diner said, "The Florida Bar's board certification program sets high standards for lawyers who aspire to further their professionalism credentials. Attorneys who earn Florida Bar board certification have demonstrated their expertise and commitment to excellence in the practice of law."

Florida Bar Board Certification On The Rise.  Applications for Florida Bar board certification in first-cycle specialties -- those for which applications were due Aug. 31 -- are up 27 percent from 2008.  That increase coupled with this year's Florida Supreme Court approval of standards for two new areas, adoption law and education law, demonstrate the Board of Legal Specialization & Education's success in expanding and promoting the program. "The numbers in the individual areas for marital and family law, appellate practice, immigration and nationality and tax law are most impressive, and aviation law and admiralty and maritime law have good showings," said BLSE Chair Louis B. "Buck" Vocelle Jr. "It is obvious that board certification continues to gain ground as a coveted credential." Vocelle said the rise may be attributed to several factors, including more focused promotion of certification to Florida Bar sections, increased publicity by board certified attorneys and heightened awareness of board certification by legal consumers.

Florida Carries the Certification Flag.  Florida board certified lawyers heading to interesting destinations now may "carry the flag" to help promote board certification.  Board certified intellectual property lawyer Mark P. Terry of Terry & Company in Miami climbed the North Ridge route of Wyoming's Grand Teton in July with a specially designed Florida Bar board certification flag and was featured on the front page of The Florida Bar News . Terry serves on the Intellectual Property Law Certification Committee and hopes to use his post to encourage new applicants. The flag is available to any certified lawyer who will carry it proudly -- and send photos.
More Than 200 Serve on BLSE and Board Certification Committees.  The Florida Bar thanks the
attorneys who volunteered to serve on the Board of Legal Specialization & Education and The Florida Bar's 24 certification committees. The BLSE is a 16-member board that oversees the Bar's board certification program and continuing legal education accreditation and compliance, governs rules and policies for each of Florida's certification areas and oversees the committees that implement each area's standards. Each nine-member certification committee reviews applicant credentials; helps develop policy to implement standards approved by the Florida Supreme Court; and creates, administers and grades examinations .

The Texas


Creed...A Few


Although 1969 is more often remembered as the year of Woodstock and when man first walked on the moon, it was also the year the State Bar of Texas began studying the idea of recognizing legal specialization. That study culminated in 1974 when the Supreme Court of Texas created the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and initiated voluntary attorney certification. From the first “class” in 1975 in the three original specialty areas (Criminal, Labor and Family Law), TBLS now certifies attorneys annually in 17 specialty areas. It also certifies paralegals in six specialty areas.


North Carolina

and NELF do the

Two Step...

By Denise Mullen

In conjunction with the National Elder Law Foundation, the North Carolina State Bar Board of Legal Specialization administers its' first specialization examination in Elder Law on October 30, 2009, with other test locations that were made available through November 4. They received 17 applications for this new, joint certification.

Overall, North Carolina received the highest number of applications since the program began in 1987. Some committee members had anticipated lower numbers of applications, particularly in areas like real property, with the downturn in the economy. In practice, though, the economy may have encouraged lawyers to apply for two reasons. One, some reported that they had the time to study this year, and more importantly, others reported seeing the board certification as a way to enhance their practice in a tight economy. We received 102 applications for board certification across nine specialty areas.

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Save the Date

for the 2010


Denver, CO

March 11-13

The Curtis Hotel

Friday Night Event

Volunteer Project


Testing, Testing...
National Elder Law Foundation

The National Elder Law Foundation Certification Examination will be held Friday, March 26, 2010 in regional locations. For more information, please contact the NELF office at 520.881.1076 or by email to


 National Board of Legal Specialty Certification

NBLSC examinations will be held on April 17, 2010 & October 16, 2010 for all of their specialty programs.






Holiday Tips

If you like putting bows on your gifts, use fabric instead of plastic.

When heading out to do your Christmas shopping, take your own reusable bags rather than using the plastic ones provided by stores.

If you're going to purchase Christmas tree lights this year; consider buy LED tree light sets - they'll last far longer and use a great deal less electricity.

Artificial snow spray can be made from environmentally damaging components, plus there's added waste of the can. A more earth-friendly imitation snow effect can be achieved by sprinkling baking soda on your tree.

Have a question you want feedback on from the Specialization Community? Not a member? Email us to be added!
Email it to the Spec listerv at:


Specialty Certification: Marketing or Measure of Competency?

In a recent study, David Shearon, Executive Director of the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization, found that it may be a little of both.

The survey of over 1700 randomly selected lawyers in Tennessee, shows that lawyers think that poor legal management skills such as business planning, market differentiation, office control procedures and time management, are components of poor lawyering, more than a lack of substantive knowledge or a lack of commitment, energy and engagement. The percentages did not differ significantly whether the lawyers were looking at themselves or at others in situations where they thought poor lawyering had occurred.

Useful continuing education courses deal with all three components. Lawyer specialty certification also addresses all three. As a voluntary program, specialty certification requires a lawyer to be committed to professional development, and be engaged in their practice to even apply for certification. The process measures substantive knowledge through a written exam. Finally, the peer review gathers information on legal management skills.

Every client wants to find the best lawyer for their needs. They want someone who will handle the file expertly, quickly and affordably. Many a cubicle sign says “Work done good, quick, cheap – pick any two.” However, clients want all three and that is what experience, office systems and training of a certified specialist should allow them to deliver. Marketing is just a means for helping clients identify the 3 for 3 attorneys. A distinction between competence and marketing for the purposes of promoting certification is fundamentally flawed. Marketing without competence is a gimmick; competence without marketing is a waste.

For more information on the Tennessee study, click here.


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