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Why Should You Use a Certified Civil Attorney?

It can be confusing when trying to choose an attorney to meet your legal needs. You may have never needed an attorney before, so you ask a friend to refer you to someone or you look in the Yellow Pages where hundreds of attorneys are listed. But how do you choose one attorney over another and how can you be sure that you will choose the right attorney to handle your particular legal problem?

Finding the right attorney is to the benefit of both you and the attorney you choose. That is why the Supreme Court of New Jersey has directed the Board on Attorney Certification to administer the attorney certification program in an effort both to protect consumers from false advertising and to raise the level of competence of attorneys in this State. This program is designed to help you make an informed decision when seeking and selecting a lawyer.

The Board on Attorney Certification was established by the Supreme Court of New Jersey in 1980 for the purpose of helping consumers find attorneys who have a recognized level of competence in particular fields of law. Attorneys may be designated by the Supreme Court as “certified attorneys” if they: are able to demonstrate sufficient levels of experience, education, knowledge and skill in a specific area of law or practice; have passed a rigorous examination; and have been recognized by their peers as having sufficient skills and reputation in the designated specialty.

Q. What is a “Certified Trial Attorney?”

A. “Certified Trial Attorney” is a designation granted by the New Jersey Supreme Court to attorneys who are able to demonstrate sufficient levels of experience, education, knowledge and skill in criminal and/or civil trial practice. The Supreme Court, through its Board on Attorney Certification, designates only those lawyers who apply for certification and who are able to meet the standards set by the Board and approved by the Court. Less than 2% of New Jersey’s lawyers have been certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as having the special skills, experience and knowledge in trial law that is required to be designated a Certified Trial Attorney. The certification is based on the State’s review of each attorney’s trial experience, recommendations of judges and of adversaries, continuing legal education and an intensive written examination.

Q. What are the requirements for Board Certification?

A. An attorney must meet the following requirements to become certified:

  • has been a member in good standing of the New Jersey Bar for at least five years;

  • has taken a specific number of continuing legal education courses in the three years prior to filing an application;

  • demonstrates substantial involvement in preparation of litigated matters;

  • demonstrates an unblemished reputation by submitting a list of attorneys and judges who will attest to the applicant’s character and ability; and

  • passes a written examination covering various aspects of practice in the designated specialty.

Q. How does the consumer know if an attorney is Board certified?

A. Although many practicing trial attorneys now advertise in newspapers, on television and in the Yellow Pages, only attorneys certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court are entitled to use either the designation “Certified Civil Trial Attorney” on their letterhead, business cards, Yellow Pages listings or in their advertisements.

Q. What if I have more questions or need to find out more about Certification?

A. Anyone in need of more information regarding the certification program should address his/her questions to:

Board on Attorney Certification
P.O. Box 970
Trenton, NJ 08625
1-609-984-3077

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