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Clearwater Lawyers in the News
Florida's legal board certification program has grown from two specialty areas in 1983 to an impressive 22 today, and in its 25th year has distinguished itself nationally as the specialization program that offers the greatest number of state-approved certification areas.
Certified attorneys are the only Florida lawyers allowed to identify or advertise themselves as specialists or experts.
"Florida's board certification program is predicated on experience and integrity, the foundations that are inseparable from our work as lawyers to advance the administration of justice," said Florida Bar President John G. "Jay" White, III. "The program is one of the nation's leaders in maintaining the highest standards for excellence and professionalism while adding practice areas for greater public access to legal specialists.”
The following Sixth Judicial Circuit lawyers earned board certification in 1983 and have remained certified for 25 years in civil trial or tax law. Lawyer photos are available for download on The Florida Bar Web site.
Stephen Overstreet Cole
John M. Elias,
Jeffrey Stuart O'Brien
Leonard M. Vincenti
John Marvin Guthrie
Julian Paul Raymond
The program continues to reach milestones in its missions to help the public identify legal specialists and make informed decisions when selecting lawyers:
- The program recently added two first-in-the-nation specialties: intellectual property law, and state and federal government and administrative practice. Two, new specialties -- adoption law and education law -- are pending Supreme Court approval.
- The Florida Bar in 2008 approved board certification for 208 lawyers in 22 specialty areas of legal practice. Nearly one-fourth of the newly certified lawyers are Young Lawyers Division members, Florida Bar members in good standing who are under age 36 and members who have practiced law for fewer than five years.
- As of December 2008, 4,223 Florida lawyers are board certified in one or more of the 22 practice areas.
- The program requires high standards for competence, knowledge, skills and proficiency, and the required peer review includes an assessment of character, ethics, and reputation for professionalism.
- Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance Co. offers a 10 percent discount on liability insurance for board-certified attorneys.
- Florida Bar surveys show that attorneys with 6 – 16 years of Florida Bar membership are most likely to apply for certification.
The Florida Bar maintains a free, online directory of certified lawyers by city and specialty at FloridaBar.org/certification.
Background. A lawyer who is a Florida Bar member in good standing and who meets Supreme Court prescribed standards may become board certified in one or more of the 22 certification fields. Certification is the highest level of evaluation by The Florida Bar of the competency and experience of attorneys in areas of law approved for certification by the Supreme Court of Florida. Minimum requirements are listed below; each area of certification may contain higher or additional standards.
- A minimum of five years in law practice
- Substantial involvement in the field of law for which certification is sought
- A passing grade on the examination required of all applicants
- Satisfactory peer review assessment of competence in the specialty field as well as character, ethics and professionalism in the practice of law
- Satisfaction of the certification area's continuing legal education requirements
Board certification is valid for five years. The attorney during that time must continue to practice law and attend Florida Bar-approved continuing legal education courses. Recertification requirements are similar to those for initial certification. Not all qualified lawyers are certified, but those who are board certified have taken the extra steps to have their competence and experience evaluated.
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