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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!

2009 Roundtable Wrap-up

Savannah offered the attendees of the 2009 Roundtable for Legal Specialty Certification first class southern hospitality and charm!

Great ideas and information echoed from all corners of the Mulberry Inn during this meeting, including great discussions on Web 2.0 (a summary is below for those interested), testing, working together within the specialization community and a general roundtable discussion with an open floor.

One of the greatest highlights was Friday lunch speaker, Frank W. "Sonny" Seiler, the defense attorney for Jim Williams in the infamous Mercer House shooting, the basis for the book and movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Sonny spoke about his role in the case, as well as bringing in the actual crime scene photos and other pieces of hard evidence. Laced with humor and insider details, you could have heard a pin drop as those in attendance hung on Sonny’s every word. No visits from Uga, the Georgia State Bulldog, who Sonny has been the proud owner of for the last six generations, but nonetheless, this was an event to remember.

Concluding the event was the Savannah Community Service Project which took 10 Roundtable volunteers to an inner city YMCA for some landscaping and clean-up. Thanks to all those who participated – your time and energy are priceless and the YMCA is now smiling in flowers!

Please save the date for the 2010 Roundtable being held in Denver, CO from March 11-13 – mile high city, here we come!

Sonny Seiler - showing the group the actual hospital admission sheet for Danny Hansford - big break in the case!

Thumbs up or down? Certification Players 2009

Thursday night reception

2009 Service Project Volunteers

Lonestar News - Texas

The Texas Board of Legal Specialization recently certified 165 attorneys in 20 areas of practice that include: administrative law, business bankruptcy law, consumer bankruptcy law, civil appellate law, civil trial law, consumer and commercial law, criminal law, estate planning and probate law, family law, health law, immigration and nationality law, juvenile law, labor and employment law, oil, gas and mineral law, personal injury trial law, commercial real estate law, farm and ranch real estate law, residential real estate law, tax law, and workers’ compensation law. Houston attorney, Olan Boudreaux, Chair of the Board, recognized the newly certified attorneys at an induction ceremony on February 5, 2009. The Supreme Court of Texas convened in special session for the induction. The inductees were sworn in by Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, who told the group, “Your certification signifies a commitment to excellence and to improving the administration of justice.” The TBLS was implemented in 1975 and currently has a total of 8,355 active Certificates of Special Competence.

On February 10, 2009, the Texas Supreme Court approved several amendments to the Attorney Standards for Certification concerning Part II-Specific Area Requirements.  The Order can be viewed at the Supreme Court’s website. Key changes impact the specialty area definitions, substantial involvement, peer review process, and other certification and recertification requirement for each specialty area.  You can also access all the Standards for Attorney Certification at our website. Website addresses provided below.

The TBLS 2009 Certification Application season is now open. The new 2009 Online Certification Applications have been upgraded with better overall functionality and greater clarity throughout all sections of the online form.  The most significant enhancement is a restructuring of the Substantial Involvement Section VI.  The deadline for all specialty area Certification Applications is midnight, May 4, 2009.


Staff Changes

Liz Vanderbeek has accepted the position of Administrator for the Minnesota Board of Legal Certification and the Minnesota Board of Continuing Legal Education. Liz has worked in this office as the CLE Compliance Specialist for over 20 years and is settling into her new role as administrator of both boards. You may contact her at 651-201-2704 or lvanderbeek@mbcle.state.mn.us.

Social Networking and Web 2.0

Certification LinkedIn

If you missed the recent National Roundtable on Lawyer Specialty Certification, you might be interested in learning more about ways that board certified lawyers and certification programs can connect online through services like LinkedIn and Twitter. Lisa M. Garcia, APR, a communications consultant to The Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization & Education, discussed the social networking revolution and how it can help – or hurt – your online reputation.

Revolution or Evolution? Craig’s List founder Craig Newmark in a recent interview said, “The focus will be on your reputation, and how much you engage using the new technologies will be more important than the traditional approach and trying to do things top down. The new form will be brief, to the point messages without noise.” Statistics seem to back up Newmark's observations:
- Adweek on March 9 reported that active reach in Nielsen-defined “member communities” now exceeds e-mail participation by 67 percent to 65 percent, and the reach of social networking and blogging venues is growing at twice the rate of Internet use such as e-mail and search engines.
- In a recent survey of 700 Twitter users, about 56 percent said they use the site for business purposes.
- Rich Klein of Beckerman Public Relations says, “An influential blog that criticizes the way a firm handles a layoff announcement can result in 50-100 ‘comments’ that also might criticize the firm’s management. We see this on the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog as well as the Law.com blogs regularly.”

Why should you care? In this age of instant communications, multi-channel news organizations can print, post and e-mail news headlines out to consumers. Your organization’s online reputation can be made – or broken – almost instantly, depending on what is reported about you.

Social media expert Kara Smith has reported about “a shadowy figure making Holland & Knight’s online footprints.” An entity on Twitter, @hklaw has been sending out numerous Twitter Tweets containing links that lead readers back HKLaw Investigation, which describes its content as “Information, Articles and Complaints involving Holland & Knight Attorneys.” Tweets are mini blog entries and are discoverable by search engines. None of the blogs or the @hklaw Twitter page belong to the Holland & Knight law firm.

Online Reputation Management. Numerous organizations offer ways to launch news and post information online. John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing lists 34 Online Reputation Management Tools that can help your organization get started.

According to Klein, the key is preparation. Consider his B.S.H. (before stuff happens) crisis communications planning advice:
- Prepare a response team and develop crisis communications policies.
- Maintain video/audio recording ability to create and post an online statement within hours.
- Google yourself regularly and sign up for Google alerts.
- Create an offline blog and keep it ready to launch.
- Consider adding comments at the bottom of news stories or blogs that are influencing your reputation.

Certification programs share many common goals such as dispelling myths, increasing diversity, recruitment, mentoring and promotion. If you or your organization would like to work cooperatively within an online community, consider using services like Twitter and LinkedIn. Garcia recently created a Florida Board Certified Lawyers group on Linkedin, and board certified lawyers are joining without any sort of advertising or promotion. The group will serve as an information exchange for certified lawyers and could be a useful communication tool in the event of a crisis. Contact Lisa M. Garcia at The Florida Bar, 850/561-5769 or Lisa Garcia.


Save the Date
for the 2010 Roundtable!!

Denver, CO

March 11-13

The Curtis Hotel


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Testing Dates

National College for DUI Defense, Inc.

Board Certification Examination: January 16, 2010 Ft. Lauderdale, FL Board Certification Examination Application Deadline: August 31, 2009

Florida Bar BLSE Now Accepting Nominations for Certification Awards

Nominations are open for two Florida Bar board certification awards that recognize lawyers who demonstrate the program’s principles of professionalism and excellence.  The Justice Harry Lee Anstead Award for The Florida Bar's Board Certified Lawyer of the Yearhonors a Florida board-certified lawyer or judge for exemplary professionalism, excellence, character and commitment to The Florida Bar's certification program and the practice of law.  The Award for Excellence in the Promotion of Board Certification recognizes excellence and creativity by a lawyer or law firm in advancing the public's knowledge of and appreciation for legal board certification.  The nomination deadline is 5 p.m. on Friday, May 8, 2009, and awards are presented at the BLSE's annual meeting reception. Nominations are submitted anonymously and are confidential.

Certified Lawyers' Online Presence Grows.

Florida board certified lawyers are leading the way in legal "blawgs" that also help to promote board certification. Check out excellent posts by Ralph Behr on criminal defense, Tony Caggianoon auto accidents, Matt Conigliaro on Florida law and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Dorothy Easley on appellate law, Keith Rizzardi on the Endangered Species Act, Grey Tesh on criminal law and Ed Normand on numerous topics at InjuryBoard.com.

Sketchley Honored with President's Pro Bono Award.

Florida Bar President Jay White recently presented board certified elder lawyer Twyla Sketchley with the Florida Bar President's Pro Bono Service Award for the Second Judicial Circuit.  Sketchley provides pro bono legal work through Legal Services of North Florida, the Office of Public Guardian Inc. and through her office, the Sketchley Law Firm P.A., in Tallahassee. Sketchley has taken on numerous pro bono cases regarding guardianship.  In 2007-08, Florida lawyers provided 1,489,099 hours of pro bono services to those in need and $5,288,466 to legal aid organizations.



© 2009 American Bar Association 


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