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Legal Specialization

NEW! Legal Specialists in MCLE Group 2 (H-M) to report legal specialist education compliance by Feb. 2, 2015

In order to make educational reporting more convenient for certified specialists, the reporting cycles for MCLE educational compliance and legal specialist education compliance have been synchronized.  Certified specialists will still recertify every five years, but the forms have been changed to reflect the fact that certified specialists will be reporting educational compliance every three years. 

Members of MCLE Compliance Group 2 (Names beginning with H-M at the time of bar admission) should report their compliance by February 2, 2015 by using the form and explanatory letter mailed to them and also available at this link.  If you are in Compliance Group 2 and you have not received the letter, be sure to copy the form from the web, so that you can meet the required deadline. 

MCLE Compliance Group 2 certified specialists will be required to compete and report completion of 36 hours of education or an approved equivalent over the three years ending January 31, 2015 by February 2, 2015.  Approved equivalents are discussed in detail in the explanatory letter.  Note that the average number of hours required has not changed, and stands at an average of 12 hours of legal specialist education per year.  Under the old reporting system (60 hours over 5 years) and the current reporting (36 hours every three years), an average of 12 hours is required. 

There will be certain flexible choices during this first reporting period to allow members to claim credit toward the 36 hour total for courses in anticipation of your recertification, but completed more than three, and less than five, years ago. 

For those subjects that normally require specialists to take education in specific areas (not just legal specialist approved education, but also special topics within that), those requirements will be waived for simplicity during this reporting period.

There is no fee to file this educational compliance.

In future years, certified specialists will be able to report legal specialist education compliance online, but for now, legal specialist education compliance is reporting using the form, while MCLE compliance is reporting using your "My State Bar Profile."

Certified specialists will still recertify every five years, and the application has changed to reflect that educational compliance is reported under this new system.

Becoming a Board Certified Specialist

  • Why certify? Learn more about why to certify by watching this short video.
  • Read about one attorney's path to becoming a board certified legal specialist.

    Starting the Application Process?

    Begin by marking your calendar for the legal specialist examination on October 27, 2015, and work on the other requirements in the meantime.  The rules and the post-examination application will help you to begin documenting the educationand experience needed to complete your candidate packet.  Look to the left to find your area of specialty.

    The examination will take place at the Pasadena Convention Center and the Oakland Convention Center.  The application, as well as applications for testing accommodations will be posted in February 2015.  Information about preparation courses that is passed on to the Department will be shared on the individual legal specialty pages when the application is posted, or as that information is received.

    Passed the 2011 or 2013 examination?

    Congratulations!  You are ready to file the post-examination application.  All applications for those who passed the examination in 2011 are due on or before January 31, 2015.  Those who passed the 2013 examination must file post-examination applications or requests for extension by April 23, 2015, which is eighteen months after the examination date.  The maximum extension that can be considered with good cause shown is through January 31, 2017.

    Already a certified specialist?

    It's time to enjoy the many benefits of being a certified specialist:  

    For educational providers

    Apply to offer Legal Specialization credits and MCLE.

    Search for a list of approved educational providers in your area of certified specialty.

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    Contact Us

    Contact us at or 415-538-2120.

    Contact Us

    Department of Legal Specialization
    Office of Admissions

    State Bar of California
    180 Howard St.
    San Francisco, CA 94105
    Fax: 415-538-2180

    For consumers

    Find certified legal specialists in your county or try the Advanced Search tool to locate attorneys who speak specific languages or practice in certain cities.

    Board-certified legal specialists have:

    • demonstrated their competence
    • received specialized education
    • shown commitment in one of 11 areas of law practice administered through the State Bar of California or 11 additional areas through our certifying partners

    Learn more in this short video.