Certified Family Law Specialist
Family law covers a wide range of areas. Cases include divorce, separation, child custody, child support, spousal support, and more. And each of these designations break down into even smaller, more specific niches. In short, it’s a legal discipline that requires a great deal of focus and specialization. When it comes to handling these cases, you need an experienced professional, which is why you may want to consider a Certified Family Law Specialist.
A Certified Family Law Specialist is much more than just an attorney well-versed in the intricacies of family law. To attain this designation, an attorney must demonstrate a deep commitment and understanding of this area of the law. They must also meet the requirements laid out by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. An attorney undergoes a long, intricate process on the road to certification.
The California State Bar certifies legal specialists for two main reasons. First, “[t]o help the public identify attorneys who have demonstrated proficiency in specialized fields of law.” Second, “[t]o encourage the maintenance and improvement of attorney competence in specialized fields of law.” In this case, that field is family law.
In order to become a Certified Family Law Specialist, an attorney must be an active member of the State Bar of California. Over the course of five years, an attorney must spend at least 25% of their professional time practicing family law. There is also an extensive written exam to pass, which is only given once every two years. But that’s only one part of the process.
In addition to passing the exam, attorneys have to submit an application. This tracks an individual’s experience in the field of family law. The package must also include positive references from colleagues, judges, and even opposing counsel, as well as documentation of completion of at least 45 hours of continuing education.
Once all of this has been completed and the information submitted, the Department of Legal Specialization goes over the application. This includes verifying experience and education, and contacting references. It’s an intensive process, and only a small portion of attorneys who apply for the Certified Family Law Specialist designation ultimately receive the title.
Even once the state hands out the Certified Family Law Specialist label, the journey is far from over. This isn’t a passive designation, and the attorney in question must actively maintain their status. Every three years, specialists must complete 36 hours of approved training, or the equivalent, during their Minimum Continuing Legal Education period. Additionally, every five years, they must go through a recertification process. This doesn’t require them to retake the CFLS test, but it does require an application.
Beyond demonstrating skills in the obvious areas, family law attorneys need at least a passing proficiency in many other disciplines. Family law has a wide reach, and a variety of fields often play into it. It’s important to have a grasp of financial law, tax statutes, estate planning, Social Security, and much more.
When dealing with family law cases, whether we’re talking about divorce, child custody, or something else, having a skilled attorney is key. Proficiency and experience in this area requires a substantial investment of time, money, energy, and other resources. The Certified Family Law Specialist designation signifies that a particular attorney is steadfastly dedicated to serving families and maintaining the highest professional standards.