The Importance of a Trial Attorney Certification
How Do You Choose the Best Attorney for Your Needs?
It's confusing trying to choose a trial attorney. You may have never needed a trial attorney before, so you ask a friend to refer you to someone, or look in the yellow pages where hundreds, or even thousands 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?
This has been written to help you make that choice. It will answer your questions about choosing a qualified and highly trained attorney with expertise in the area of law relating to your special legal problem. Finding the right attorney is to your benefit and to the attorney's as well. That is why the Supreme Court of New Jersey has directed the Board on Trial Attorney Certification to carry out the certification program in an effort to raise the level of competence of trial attorneys in this State. This program is designed to help you make an informed decision when seeking and selecting a trial lawyer.
What is a "Certified Trial Attorney"?
"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 Trial 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.
What are the requirements for Board Certification?
An attorney must meet the following requirements to become Board Certified:
- Must be a member in good standing of the New Jersey bar for at least 5 years
- In the 3 years prior to filing an application, must have taken continuing legal education courses
- Must show a substantial involvement in preparation of litigated matters and demonstrate primary responsibility for a specific number of completed trials in New Jersey Superior Court
- Must demonstrate an unblemished reputation by submitting a list of trial attorneys and judges who will attest to the applicant's character and ability
- Must pass a written examination covering various aspects of trial practice
Why does New Jersey have a program for Certification in trial law?
The program helps consumers find attorneys who have a recognized level of competence in specialized fields of the law. Certification also helps lawyers by giving them a way to make their experience known to the public and to other lawyers.
How many Attorneys are certified in New Jersey?
As of 1999, out of approximately 68,700 lawyers in New Jersey, 1,450 were Board certified.
How does the consumer know if an Attorney is Board certified?
Although many practicing 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" or "Certified Criminal Trial Attorney" on their letterhead, business cards, Yellow Page listings or in their advertisements.
What if I have more questions or need to find out more about Certification?
Anyone in need of more information regarding the Certification program should address their questions to:
Board on Trial Certification
Trenton, NJ 08625 1-609-777-0366