What Legal Specialty Areas Does The California Bar Recognize?

What Legal Specialty Areas Does The California Bar Recognize?

What Legal Specialty Areas Does The California Bar Recognize?

While a good number of attorneys decide to engage in general practice, many also choose to enter a specific area of the law and specialize. The California State Bar certifies attorneys as specialists who have exceeded the standard licensing requirements.

With the goal of increasing public protection and encouraging attorney competence, California Rule of Court 9.35, was the authoritative regulation for the creation of the State Bar Legal Specialization program. The program, the first of its kind in the United States, was intended to provide a way for attorneys to earn the designation as a certified specialist in particular areas of law. The program has served as a model for other state programs for certifying legal specialists.

The Legal Specialization program is now administered through the Admissions Applicant Portal where lawyers may register for the Legal Specialist Examination, apply for initial certification or recertification, report Legal Specialist Continuing Legal Education (LSCLE) Compliance, or submit other legal specialization requests. Currently, certified specialists may find initial certification dates, current certification terms, and LSCLE compliance dates in the California Stae Bar’s Applicant Portal. All California licensees have a current Applicant Portal account, thus eliminating the necessity for a new account to be registered or created.

The State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization certifies legal specialists in the following areas of law:

  • Admiralty and Maritime Law
  • Appellate Law
  • Bankruptcy Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law
  • Family Law
  • Franchise and Distribution Law
  • Immigration and Nationality Law
  • Legal Malpractice Law
  • Taxation Law
  • Workers’ Compensation Law


The California State Bar’s Board of Legal Specialization also accredits certain organizations to offer certification in 11 additional areas of law. “Board Certification” indicates that any certified attorney has met rigorous, objective standards and demonstrated knowledge in the particular field. The first step for any applicant is to review the rules and regulations of the organization to ascertain eligibility.


American Board of Certification

  • Business Bankruptcy Law
  • Consumer Bankruptcy Law
  • Creditors’ Rights Law


National Board of Trial Advocacy

  • Civil Trial Advocacy
  • Criminal Trial Advocacy
  • Family Law Trial Advocacy
  • Social Security Disability Law


American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys

  • Legal Malpractice
  • Medical Malpractice


National Elder Law Foundation

  • Elder Law


National Association of Counsel for Children

  • Juvenile Law (Child Welfare)


Certification provides an objective standard that assists the public in making informed decisions in choosing an attorney. Also, certification encourages attorneys to strive for excellence and recognizes those attorneys who have met a particular organization’s rigorous standards.

The path to becoming an effective attorney-advocate leads to the California Desert Trial Academy. The distance learning program offered by the California Desert Trial Academy College of Law is tailor-made to meet the needs and demands of students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Call us today at (760) 342-0900 or find out more online here.

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