MEDIA CONTACT:  Diane Curtis   415-538-2028

San Francisco, June 05, 2009 — California attorneys with experience in one of 11 legal areas are invited to take the August test leading to specialty certification by the State Bar of California.

Only those attorneys who are certified by the State Bar Board of Legal Specialization or an organization whose program has been accredited by the State Bar may advertise or identity themselves as certified specialists in California.

"The program works to increase public confidence in the legal system by giving consumers a way to identify attorneys who have proven their knowledge and proficiency," said Lester Friedman, chair of the Board of Legal Specialization. "Certification helps clients - especially those who are worried about finding a good lawyer - find those attorneys. Certified specialists are a good referral choice for other attorneys whose clients need a specialist's knowledge."

Friedman noted that legal specialization certification is posted on the attorney's State Bar membership public record. In addition, the Office of Special Admissions and Specialization provides lists of certified specialists to the public.

Currently, lawyers are certified in 11 areas of law: admiralty and maritime; appellate; bankruptcy; criminal; estate planning, trust and probate; family; franchise and distribution; immigration and nationality; legal malpractice; taxation, and workers' compensation.

To be eligible to take the certification test, which takes place this year on Sunday, August 9, at the Westin at San Francisco Airport and the Marriott in downtown Los Angeles, a lawyer must be an active member of the State Bar of California who has worked in a particular specialty at least 25 percent of his or her full-time working hours during the last five years.

In addition to passing the certification test, the attorney seeking to become a certified legal specialist must demonstrate a high level of experience in the specialty field, complete at least 45 hours of continuing education in the specialty and be favorably evaluated by other attorneys and judges.

To obtain complete information and to register for the exam, go to On the "Legal Specialization" page, click on Exam Information and Exam Information for Laptop Users. Early bird registration deadline is July 17. The fee is $300 for writing or $350 if using a laptop. Laptop users must download and register exam software by July 27. Extra fees apply when registering after July 17, and final deadline for registration is August 3.

Founded in 1927 by the state legislature, the State Bar of California is an administrative arm of the California Supreme Court, serving the public and seeking to improve the justice system for more than 80 years. All lawyers practicing law in California must be members of the State Bar. By June 2009, membership reached more than 222,000.