The National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA) is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA), certifying lawyers in various specialty areas, including civil trial law. Founded in 1977, the NBTA–through its attorney certification programs—serves the interest of the public by raising the standards of American trial advocacy to improve the quality of justice.
One does not simply receive NBTA certification by filing out an application. In order to qualify and be accepted for certification in Civil Trial Law an applicant must fulfill the following requirements:
- Spend 5 years in the area of practice he or she wishes to receive certification in.
- Prove his or her good standing in the state or states of admission.
- Exhibit substantial involvement related to the selected area of practice, including at least 30% of his or her own time spent practicing civil trial litigation 3 years prior to submitting the application.
- Spend a minimum of 45 days of trial examining or cross-examining witnesses, delivering opening statements or closing arguments, serving as lead counsel in a minimum of 5 jury cases, participating in a minimum of 5 jury cases, and conducting at least 5 voire dire jury examinations.
- Demonstrate substantial participation in continuation of legal education within his or her specialty either by attending at least 45 hours in programs or through teaching courses, participating in workshops or conferences, or authoring books or articles on trial law.
- Submit 10 to 12 references, excluding current partners, associates, or relatives.
- Pass a written examination, which tests his or her proficiency, knowledge, and experience.
- Submit a copy of a legal writing document, which must contain accurate writing, and facts relating to either actual or hypothetical application of the law, and is well constructed in an appropriate argumentative style.
- Disclose any criminal charges, claims of professional negligence, or allegation of inappropriate professional conduct raised against him or her.
Applying for board certification is challenging and, since it is not a requirement to practice law, all the more significant when a lawyer devotes the extra time and energy to obtain this demanding and rare achievement. In addition to being ABA accredited, the NBTA’s certification procedures have been widely praised, most notably by the United States Supreme Court, which stated that, “There is no dispute about the bona fides and the relevance of NBTA certification”.
In addition after being certified the attorney must demonstrate continuing involvement in the area of certification and participation in education. In order to remain certified the attorney must apply for and be granted recertification every five years.
Less than 4% of attorneys practicing civil trial law in the United States are board certified in their field.
In addition, many states, including Florida, offer specialized certification to qualified lawyers. To be certified in Civil Trial Law in Florida, an attorney must fulfill the aforementioned requirements, but must complete an even higher number of hours in continuing legal education.
To be certified in appellate law by the Florida Bar, a Florida attorney must also fulfill many of the same requirements listed by the NBTA as their standards are very much in line with one another.
Less than 1% of attorneys practicing civil trial law in the state of Florida are NBTA certified in their field.
NBTA and Florida Bar certifications are not merely accolades. They are education, ethics and actual experience based certifications that are meant to benefit you, the client in selecting an attorney. You would not allow a doctor to treat you without certification in their area of specialty. Hiring a lawyer who specializes in your type of case is just as important and may be the difference between securing a favorable verdict or not.
At Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Littky-Rubin & Whitman, we are proud that 5 lawyers on our team sought to earn these high achievements and are “double boarded” both NBTA certified and Florida Bar certified. It exemplifies our desire to not just do what is required, but to go beyond such expectations to provide our clients with a higher level of service that they deserve.
Learn more about board certification under the video on this page here.