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Why Hire a Certified Specialist

Similar to the medical field where one doctor can’t remain current in all areas, the legal profession has grown so complex that attorneys can no longer be all things to all people. With a State Bar of Arizona Certified Specialist you can be confident that the attorney you choose has been independently verified to have extensive experience and knowledge in your area of need.


FAQs

How long must an attorney practice before applying to become a Certified Specialist?

  • Five (5) years if applying in the areas of Administrative, Bankruptcy, Estate & Trust, Personal Injury & Wrongful Death, Tax, and Workers Compensation Law
  • Seven (7) years in the areas of Criminal, Family, and Real Estate law

Does an applicant have to work in the area of specialty before becoming certified in it?

Yes, they all must show they have extensive experience and knowledge of a breadth of issues in their area of law prior to being designated a Certified Specialist. They must document a substantial number of hearings, cases, arbitration or mitigation to prove that experience.

Is “Certified Specialist” a lifetime designation?

No, Certified Specialists must reapply every 5 years. Recertification applicants undergo the same vetting process as an initial applicant which includes: Disciplinary history background checks, peer review reference checks, and proof of continuing substantial involvement and advanced continuing education in their area of specialty. The only difference is that they do not have to retake the exam.

How can I find a Certified Specialist?

Certified Specialists are listed here on the website. Chose the area of Specialty from the sidebar at left, and then “Expand to find a Certified Specialist in your area”. Click a city to find Certified Specialists near you, the names link to their profile.

Who decides if an attorney is qualified to be a Certified Specialist?

The “Standards” they must meet are established by the Supreme Court of Arizona. When an application is received, the Board of Legal Specialization Administrator completes a preliminary review to verify the basic Standards are met, requests disciplinary history checks and asks for reviews from peers. The collected Application Package is then submitted to the Advisory Commission for vetting. Commissions are made up of 10 attorneys who practice in the area of specialty, and they verify information, such as: Is the information in the application accurate? Does the applicant meet the practice and substantial involvement minimums? Are peer reviews positive? Has the attorney been disciplined? Is the attorney taking advanced specialized training? Once the Advisory Commission is confident that the attorney meets the level of excellence required to become a Certified Specialist, the attorney is recommended. Applicants applying for the first time must then pass an advanced level exam. The final step is approval by the separate Board of Legal Specialization. The responsibilities are not taken lightly, and it can take 6-9 months for an applicant to receive a recommendation.

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