What Does It Mean When an Attorney Is Board Certified in Texas?

What Does It Mean When an Attorney Is Board Certified in Texas?When you’re searching for an attorney online, you’ll run across a lot of different awards and icons on their sites. Some of these are from ratings services that look at what an attorney has done, at the results he or she has received, and the work he or she does for people every day. Most of the attorneys at Slack Davis Sanger, for example, has been recognized by organizations like Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in America, and are rated AV Preeminent® by Martindale-Hubbell, which is given only to attorneys “who are ranked at the highest level of professional excellence for their legal expertise, communication skills, and ethical standards by their peers.”

In some cases, however, you’ll see that an attorney is Board Certified in a type of practice. Certifications are different from these other listings for a few reasons:

  • First, an attorney is not granted a certification based on peer review, nor can a certificate be purchased; it must be earned through a demanding process. There’s a minimum number of cases that the lawyers must have tried, they must pass a rigorous test in the subject area, and they must provide references from opposing attorneys they have faced and from judges before whom they’ve appeared.
  • Second, certification in Texas is only offered by the Texas Board of Legal Certification. The TBLS “was established in 1974 by the Supreme Court of Texas. TBLS certifies lawyers and paralegals that have substantial, relevant experience in select areas of law, completed continuing legal education hours in the specialty area, and passed a rigorous exam.” Both attorneys and paralegals may be eligible for certification. Different states will have their own Boards created by their state Supreme Courts.
  • Third, Board Certifications must be maintained, year after year. Only about 50% of attorneys who obtain a Board Certification from the TBLS are still certified 10 years later.

About the National Board of Trial Advocacy

The National Board of Trial Advocacy is “a nonprofit organization devoted to improving the quality of trial advocacy and aiding consumers in their selection of experienced legal representation.” The organization is different from the TBLS in that it certifies attorneys from around the country, but it is also a thorough process to obtain their certification. Attorneys can seek a specialist designation in one of eight different areas:

·       Civil Trial Law

·       Civil Practice Advocacy

·       Complex Litigation

·       Criminal Trial Law

·       Family Trial Law

·       Patent Litigation

·       Social Security Disability Law

·       Truck Accident Law

Why do TBLS Board Certifications matter?

Being Board Certified is a prestigious accomplishment that puts the attorney alongside an elite group of attorneys in Texas. In fact, out of more than 109,000 attorneys licensed to practice law in the state, only 7,600 are Board Certified by the TBLS.

In addition, Board Certified lawyers have the right to publicly represent themselves as specialists in up to 25 areas of law, a demonstration to their clients that they are true experts in their respective area(s). It is one of the most respected achievements a Texas attorney can attain.

These certifications matter because they can help people narrow down their choices when it comes to finding the right attorney for their needs. If you want someone you know can handle the complexities of your case, who has studied and practiced in this area, and who has been recognized by the Texas State Supreme Court as a specialist, then a Board Certified attorney is the right choice.

What does an attorney need to do to be Board Certified?

The TBLS has rigorous standards for certifying an attorney as a specialist in his or her field. You must have obtained a significant number of continuing legal education (CLE) credits in a specific area of practice, have experience in that area, have recommendations from your peers and from judges before whom you’ve appeared, and pass an exam. While anyone who fulfills the obligations can seek and maintain certification, it is worth noting that very few attorneys do.

Slack Davis Sanger has multiple Board Certified attorneys

There are four attorneys at Slack Davis Sanger who have reached this level of skill and have obtained their Board Certification from the Texas Board for Legal Specialization:

  • Mike Davis, Partner and co-founder of the firm. Mr. Davis has been Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law since 1987.
  • John Jose, Managing Partner of the Fort Worth office. Mr. Jose has been Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law since 1988.
  • Mike Slack, Managing Partner and co-founder of the firm. Mr. Slack has been Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law since 2002. He is also certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy as a Civil Trial Advocate – one of only 209 attorneys in Texas to achieve this Board Certification.
  • Paula Sweeney, Of Counsel. Ms. Sweeney has been Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law since 1986.

Slack Davis Sanger takes its commitment to excellence seriously. We understand how continuing legal education and a willingness to learn more and improve are part of what makes our team so successful for clients. To learn more about our services, or to schedule a free consultation with an injury attorney from our firm, please call 800-455-8686 or fill out our contact form. We maintain offices in Austin, Dallas, and Fort Worth for your convenience, and represent clients throughout Texas and around the country.