Why Choose a Texas Board Certified Criminal Lawyer for Your Case.
Texas lawyers have many specialties and make claims about their ability through websites, directories, advertising, and direct mail. How do you figure out who is the best lawyer for you and what they know how to do?
The Texas Board of Legal Specialization (TBLS) was created by the Supreme Court of Texas in 1974 as a way to help consumers know how to find specialists. The TBLS has a process to identify attorneys who are specialists in different areas of the law. The TBLS is the only organization authorized to perform this service to Texas consumers.
According to the TBLS website:
Board Certification is a mark of excellence and a distinguishing accomplishment.
Within the Texas legal community, Board Certification means an attorney has substantial, relevant experience in a select field of law as well as demonstrated, and tested, special competence in that area of law.
Voluntary, Detailed Process to Become a Board Certified Criminal Lawyer Specialist.
Going through the TBLS process is voluntary, and can only occur after a lawyer has been practicing for a minimum of 5 years and 3 years in the specialty area. The initial certification is valid for five years and an attorney has to apply for recertification every five years.
In addition to these basic requirements, according to their website, the TBLS process also requires an attorney to have:
- 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.
In the area of Texas Criminal Law specialization in particular, specialization means:
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.
Just as you wouldn’t hire a painter to service your air conditioning units, you shouldn’t hire a generalist lawyer to handle your criminal law case. Though there are able criminal defense attorneys who have not gone through the Board Certification process, it may be especially difficult for a non-lawyer to know who they are.
Clients and Attorneys Often Look at Board Certification to Assist in Choosing Lawyers.
According to the TBLS, Texas currently has the most Board Certified lawyers in the nation. Professionalism and professional recognition are two benefits of Board Certification as explained by the TBLS:
Professionalism — Certification promotes the availability, accessibility and quality of legal services. It also increases proficiency and encourages attorneys and paralegals to achieve high standards of professional excellence.
Professional Recognition – Recognition from the public and the legal community for having attained a certain level of experience and skill as a specialist. Although not always determinative, the Board Certification is one factor clients consider when selecting an attorney and other attorneys weigh when making referrals.
How Do You Find a Texas Board Certified Attorney?
The TBLS website has a search page to discover specialists in different locations and practice areas. The directory also lists their law firm and how to contact them. Please note, in the criminal law area, a number of the specialists are judges and prosecutors who obviously do not engage in criminal defense.
It can be confusing to determine which lawyer to hire given the different companies that “rate” lawyers. Some of these directories require payment to advertise. Note, the Texas Board Certification Process isn’t overly difficult to achieve if you are actually qualified and experienced at practicing criminal law. If someone says they specialize in criminal law, but they aren’t Texas Board Certified, it is fully reasonable to wonder why.
You can find Bill Stradley’s TBLS listing here.