What is the process for becoming a Board Certified lawyer in Florida?
Answer: The certification process to become Board Certified in any discipline is fairly rigorous. You undergo a screening or background check by the Florida Bar; there is a substantial amount of peer review, where they actually go out and contact other attorneys that you’ve worked with in the past, not only alongside other attorneys on cases but the opposing council. They also try to speak to or spend letters to all the judges where you’ve ever tried a case in front of to make sure that you are a true professional—not only that you’re just a good criminal attorney, but you keep professional relationships with judges, with other court personnel.In addition to the background process, you also have to prove that you are substantially involved in the practice of criminal law. You can’t just be a good test taker and pass the test at the end; you also have to demonstrate that this is what you do for a living, you defend people who are accused of crimes. In order to do that, you have to have a minimum amount of jury trials tried to a verdict where you are the first chair or the person primarily responsible for the case. You have to have at least 15 jury trials that are felonies tried to a verdict. In addition to jury trial experience, you have to have a minimum number of continuing legal education classes in criminal trial law; I believe the number is 45 or 50 over the three-year period just prior to taking the examination. And that’s the last and probably the most difficult part.
At the end of everything, if you pass the background and you otherwise qualify, you still have to take and pass a rigorous two-day examination that is, most people that have taken it have said that it is actually more difficult than actually passing the bar. Only then can you hold yourself out as a Board Certified attorney in a certain discipline.