Legal Specialization logo

Legal Specialists






Legal Specialization

Rules Reorganization Effective January 1, 2014

Effective January 1, 2014, the State Bar has reorganized the rules governing the program in Legal Specialization primarily to make them easier to read.

As part of this reorganization, effective in 2015, specialists will begin to report their legal specialist education at the same time that they normally report MCLE. More information will be forming on full procedures.

In the meantime, certified specialists who file their recertification applications this year should do so in the same way as it has been done in the past, including 60 hours of education over the past five years.

Becoming a 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.
  • Happy Anniversary to those Certified Specialists reaching their 20th, 30th and 40th year in their specialty as of 2013. View a list of

     Certified Specialists celebrating these milestones as of 2013.

  • Starting the Application Process?

    Although the next Certified Legal Specialist examination isn't until October 27, 2015, you can begin your preparation toward the other requirements by reviewing the rules and standards to learn the requirements and the post-examination application to see how you will need to document compliance with the requirements and which documents you will need.

    Applicants can find locations in Northern California and Southern California. The examination date and logistics will be posted in Spring 2015 and information about preparation courses that is passed on to the Department will be shared on the individual legal specialty pages as the 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:

    • Download the certified specialist logo and terms of use. Certified legal specialists are entitled to use this logo free of charge on their e-mail, letterhead, website and other outreach materials.
    • Rules have been Reorganized. Effective January 1, 2014 the State Bar has reorganized the rules govering the program in Legal Specialization primarily to make them easier to read. As part of this reorganization, effective in 2015, specialists will begin to report their legal specialist education at the same time that they normally report MCLE (36 hours of specialist education every three years). More information will be forthcoming on full procedures. In the meantime, anyone recertifying this year (2014) should do so in the same way as it has been done in the past, including 60 hours of education over the past five years.
    • Update your profile through My State Bar Profile to add your firm's website, photo and spoken languages. Certified Legal Specialists are automatically listed by their specialty on the State Bar website and only certified specialists can be searched by practice area on the State Bar of California website.
    • Ready to retire or resign your Certified Legal Specialist status permanently? Fill out the Certified Specialist Retirement/Resignation Form and send it to the address on the form.
    • Need brochures for your office? Order "What Can A Certified Specialist Do for You?" brochures, which include a place for you to include your own firm's business cards.
    • Want to be on the radio? San Francisco Bay Area certified specialists can audition to be part of the radio call-in panel for "Your Legal Rights" to appear on-air or take off-air calls. Contact LegalSpec@calbar.ca.gov if you are interested.

    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.

    News you can use 

    • Attached is the 27th Annual Report of the Legal Specialization Program covering the year 2013.
    • Come see us!  Certified specialists can pick up their ribbons and find out program news.  Applicants can ask questions in person.
      • May 30-31, 2014: The American Bar Association Annual National Specialization Roundtable is coming to Long Beach, California along with the ABA National Conference on Legal Professional Liability.  Attend to network with specialists from all areas around California and the nation and to learn innovative ways to spread the news of your certification.
      • May 30, 2014: There will be a happy hour for specialists on May 30 from 5pm-7pm in Long Beach at George's Greek Cafe, with a special invitation to Admiralty & Maritime Lawyers.  RSVP to legalspec@calbar.ca.gov if you'd like us to have a name tag for you.
      • June 19-21, 2014: CBLS will have a table at the State Bar Solo and Small Firm Summit in Newport Beach, CA.
      • June 26-29, 2014: CBLS will have a table at the California Applicants' Attorneys Association Summer Convention in Reno, NV.
    • The rules governing legal specialization were reorganized effective Jan. 1, 2014. For 2014, please continue to use the current forms for certification and re-certification located on this website.  New guidelines will be posted for those who  have an MCLE reporting deadline in 2015 and for those certifying in 2015 and beyond.
    • Examination results will be mailed via U.S. mail to the address found on your State Bar profile by March 15, 2014.
    • Read about the importance of certified specialist status to consumers and attorneys here: Q+A Legal Specialization a Boon for Consumers.
    • Don't miss the radio program on KALW 91.7FM "Your Legal Rights," featuring certified specialists from around the state every Wednesday at 7 p.m. Not in San Francisco? Download the free Tune-In app for Android or Apple to listen.
    • Refer a specialist. Search by county, city or ZIP code for a certified specialist in your area.
    • Submit articles for the Legal Specialization Digest of up to 500 words to LegalSpec@calbar.a.gov.

    Contact Us

    Contact us at LegalSpec@calbar.ca.gov or 415-538-2120.

    Contact Us
    Office of Legal Specialization
    State Bar of California
    180 Howard St.
    San Francisco, CA 94105
    415-538-2120
    Fax: 415-538-2180
    legalspec@calbar.ca.gov
    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.