Board-certified lawyers pride themselves on being up-to-date on current developments and legislation that impacts their legal specialties. For example, with constantly evolving business technologies and systems, lawyers who are board certified in Privacy Law by the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) are on top of emerging privacy legislation on state and global levels. In a legal landscape where, fewer cases are actually tried to verdict, lawyers board certified in Complex Litigation by the National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA) have, at a minimum, actively participated in one hundred contested matters, and NBTA lawyers board certified in Criminal Law have extensive jury trial experience and significant experience dealing with expert witnesses. Lawyers board certified in Business Bankruptcy Law by the American Board of Certification (ABC) must participate in at least thirty adversary proceedings or contested matters across a range of business areas. Thus, board-certified lawyers have focused legal acumen that is demonstrated and tested on a regular basis.
Selecting a board-certified lawyer has appeal for a number of other reasons beyond proven competency. First, board-certified lawyers have extensive experience in their jurisdiction and are familiar with local practices, the jury pool, and judges. Second, because these lawyers practice in a specific specialty area, they tend to know their colleagues on the opposing side. This type of knowledge and familiarity can be of assistance in amicably resolving disputes that could otherwise wind up in drawn-out, expensive litigation. Third, as board-certified specialists, these lawyers understand how to effectively manage the cost of litigation and can provide accurate budgets for use by in-house counsel when advising management. Finally, when faced with “bet the company” litigation, qualifications matter, and in-house counsel can sleep better at night knowing that board-certified counsel is capably acting in the best interest of the company.
At the very least, corporate counsel can use the board certification designation to narrow down the list of qualified candidates for consideration. On this point, corporate counsel should also consider consulting the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Specialization’s website for more information on board certification, specialty areas, and links to the national private organizations with ABA-accredited certification programs and states that run their own certification programs throughout the country. The ABA has been involved with board certification of lawyers for almost thirty years, and ABA accreditation is widely recognized as a valuable seal of approval for organizations conferring board certification. Additionally, the ABA has worked with states on incorporating ABA Model Rule 7.2 (formerly 7.4) into state ethics codes, and many states permit certified specialists to publicly disclose certification without any limitation if they are certified by a program that is accredited by the ABA.