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Board Certified Family Law Attorney: What is it and Why is it Important?

“…Board Certification means [that] an attorney has substantial, relevant experience in a select field of law, as well as demonstrated, and tested, special competence in that area of law.” www.tbls.org There are currently twenty-one (21) areas within which an attorney may become board certified. Board certifications are governed by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. The Texas Board of Legal Specialization was established by the Texas Supreme Court in 1974 to recognize and license attorneys who demonstrate special competence in an area of law. The Texas Board of Legal Specialization is the only governing body who can issue a board certification for an attorney in Texas.

The board certification process is voluntary and can only take place after an attorney has been in practice for five years, with a minimum of three years experience in the specialty area for which the attorney is applying. Only after the attorney meets the experience requirement can the attorney request the right to sit for the board certification examination which is an extensive and exhaustive examination meant to test the attorney’s knowledge and competence in the area of law for which they are seeking certification. The passage rate for the applicants seeking board certification varies between the specialties, but suffice it to say that it is much less than fifty percent (50%) in most specialty areas. In short, the right to take the test does not guarantee board certification.

Board Certified lawyers are the only attorneys in the State of Texas who can publicly represent themselves as a specialist in a select area of the law. In fact, they are the only attorneys allowed by the State Bar of Texas to do so. This designation sets them apart as being an attorney with the highest, public commitment to excellence in their area of law. While all attorneys in the State of Texas can practice Family Law, only an attorney who is board certified in Family Law can represent that they are a Family Law specialist.

According to the latest statistics published by the State Bar of Texas, there are 86,494 attorneys who hold an active license to practice law in the State of Texas. According to the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, there are 7,255 attorneys who are certified in one or more areas of specialty. Additionally, there are only 797 attorneys in the State of Texas who are board certified in the area of Family Law. In short, this means that less than ten percent (10%) of all attorneys are board certified in any specialty and less than one percent (1%) of all attorneys in the State of Texas are board certified in the area Family Law.

When choosing an attorney to represent you in connection with a Family Law matter, you should ask yourself if you want an attorney who has demonstrated their competency and had it certified or whether you want to rely solely upon other less reliable sources? With the designation of Board Certified in Family Law, you can be sure that you are receiving the highest level of competence and experience.