Board Certified Specialist

Q1. What does "Board Certified " mean?

Board Certification is a voluntary designation program for attorneys and paralegals. Initial certification is valid for a period of five years. To remain certified, an attorney and paralegal must apply for recertification every five years and meet substantial involvement, peer review and continuing legal education requirements for the specialty area.

To become Board Certified in a specialty area, an attorney must have:

Been licensed to practice law for at least five years;

Devoted a required percentage of practice to a specialty area for at least three years;

Handled a wide variety of matters in the area to demonstrate experience and involvement;

Attended continuing education seminars regularly to keep legal training up to date;

Been evaluated by fellow lawyers and judges;

Passed a 6-hour written examination.

To become Board Certified in a specialty area, a paralegal must:

Have at least 5 years experience as a paralegal (3 years in Texas);

Currently work under the supervision of a licensed attorney doing business in Texas;

Have at least 50% of paralegal duties concentrated in specialty areas;

Attended continuing education seminars regularly to keep legal training up to date;

In addition to the above, successfully complete one of the following:

NALA certification, or

Baccalaureate or higher degree, or

ABA approved paralegal program, or

Paralegal program consisting of a minimum of 60 semester credit hours of which 18 hours are substantive legal courses, or

Paralegal program consisting of a minimum of 18 semester credit hours of which 18 hours are substantive legal courses in addition to a minimum of 45 semester credit hours of general college curriculum courses, or

2 additional years of actual paralegal experience under the supervision of a licensed attorney;

Have been evaluated by lawyers, judges and other professionals associated with the specialty area;

Pass a 4-hour written examination.

Q2. Is there a specialty certification for my particular legal problem?

TBLS currently certifies attorneys in the following 20 specialty areas of the law:
Administrative, Business Bankruptcy, Civil Appellate, Civil Trial, Consumer Bankruptcy, Consumer and Commercial, Criminal, Estate Planning and Probate, Family, Health, Immigration and Nationality, Juvenile, Labor and Employment, Oil, Gas and Mineral, Personal Injury Trial, Commercial Real Estate, Residential Real Estate, Farm and Ranch Real Estate, Tax and Workers' Compensation Law. Listed below is a brief description of the types of matters and expertise defined by each of our specialty areas.

  • Certified Administrative Law specialists have handled contested cases before state or federal regulatory agencies. They are knowledgeable of the statutes and rules under which the agencies operate and have provided advice as to the impact of the statutes and rules on individuals and companies.
  • Certified Business Bankruptcy Law specialists can represent business debtors and creditors in all areas which involve the Bankruptcy Code and other aspects of debtor/creditor relations.
  • Certified Civil Appellate Law specialists have handled many aspects of matters in the appellate courts of the state. They are knowledgeable of the rules that govern appeals of civil cases and have prepared briefs and performed oral argument in those appeals.
  • Certified Civil Trial Law specialists have participated in the preparation and trial of significant civil cases. They are familiar with the negotiation and pre-trial process, as well as with the rules of evidence, procedure, and other substantial law involved in these civil cases.
  • Certified Consumer Bankruptcy Law specialists can represent non-business debtors and creditors in all areas of bankruptcy including debtor/creditor relations affected by bankruptcy and debt adjustment.
  • Certified Consumer and Commercial Law specialists have counseled and represented clients in matters involving the purchase or lease of goods and services by consumers and are familiar with the various federal and state laws which affect these transactions. Consumers may be any persons or entities, including in some instances businesses or business consumers.
  • Certified Criminal Appellate Law specialists have represented clients in appellate court proceedings following criminal convictions, including those in appellate courts as well as those in trial courts seeking release of an incarcerated person.
  • Certified Criminal Law specialists have experience in the preparation and trial of serious criminal matters. They have extensive knowledge of state and federal constitutional law, evidence, procedure and penal laws involved in these matters.
  • Certified Estate Planning & Probate Law specialists have dealt with the analysis, planning and disposition of property owned by clients. They have prepared various documents, such as wills, trusts, and business agreements. They have dealt with different types of probate procedures. They are familiar with the tax laws that govern these matters.
  • Certified Family Law specialists have participated in the contested trial of cases involving matters such as divorce, property division, child custody, child support, adoption, paternity or other matrimonial matters.
  • Certified Health Law specialists have experience with the health care industry and the application of federal, state, and local law, rules, and regulations to health care patients, providers, payors, and vendors in the health care industry. They have handled matters involving delivery of health care services with an emphasis on operations, regulatory and transactional legal issues which are involved in the industry.
  • Certified Immigration and Nationality Law specialists have dealt with the various procedures by which foreign citizens may remain in , or become citizens, of the United States. They have dealt with the rules, documents and proceedings of the federal agencies that deal with these matters, primarily the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
  • Certified Juvenile Law specialists have handled matters that involve the rights and obligations of youths and the procedures involved in the probationary and correctional systems for youths.
  • Certified Labor and Employment Law specialists are familiar with the various state and federal laws which govern the rights and obligations of employees, businesses, and labor organizations in the workplace.
  • Certified Oil, Gas, & Mineral Law specialists have advised clients as to the acquisition, ownership, and leasing of oil, gas and other mineral interests. They have dealt with the title to and surface use of property and the documents, statutes and rules that affect these interests.
  • Certified Personal Injury Trial Law specialists have handled various aspects (including jury trials) of matters such as vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, or defective products which cause physical or mental injury to a person.
  • Certified Real Estate Law specialists have experience with the statutes and regulations governing the acquisition, transfer and use of land and improvements on the land. Residential Real Estate deals with matters affecting homes, Commercial Real Estate with matters involving business operations, and Farm and Ranch Real Estate with matters involving agriculture.
  • Certified Tax Law specialists have dealt primarily with the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code dealing with the imposition and collection of taxes. They have advised clients as to their rights and responsibilities regarding taxes, and have prepared various documents in furtherance of that advice. They are also familiar with the procedure for contesting proposed and assessed taxes.
  • Certified Workers' Compensation Law specialists have dealt primarily with the rights and duties of employees, employers, health care providers, and insurance carriers involved in matters arising out of the Texas Workers' Compensation Act, and also with matters involving workers' compensation claim disputes adjudicated under the Administrative Procedure Act.

Q3. Where can I find listings of Board Certified attorneys and paralegals?

The best source is this site's on-line directory, the "Search" page. It contains the most current and complete information and allows you to search the database using a variety of criteria. You may search the TBLS database by any combination of name, city, county, zip code, or specialty area.

Additionally, your telephone directory lists attorney information under "Attorneys - Board Certified" at the end of the alphabetic listing of attorneys.

Q4. How many Board Certified attorneys and paralegals are in Texas?

There are currently 7,189 board certified attorneys in Texas:
Administrative LawAD156
Business Bankruptcy LawBB152
Consumer Bankruptcy LawCB145
Civil Appellate LawAP426
Civil Trial LawCT1110
Consumer and Commercial LawCS68
Criminal LawCR858
Estate Planning and Probate LawEP685
Family LawFM743
Health LawHE55
Immigration and Nationality LawIM126
Juvenile LawJV69
Labor and Employment LawLB587
Oil, Gas and Mineral LawOG276
Personal Injury Trial LawPI1698
Commercial Real Estate LawRC512
Farm and Ranch Real Estate LawRF104
Residential Real Estate LawRR331
Tax LawTX226
Workers' Compensation LawWC101
Total Active Attorney Certificates 8428
Board certified Paralegals in Texas:
Civil Trial LawLACT81
Criminal LawLACR10
Estate Planning and Probate LawLAEP15
Family LawLAFM112
Personal Injury Trial LawLAPI84
Real Estate LawLARE21
Total Active Paralegal Certificates 323