The first step in becoming a certified specialist is to take the one-day legal specialization certification exam held:

Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013
At the South San Francisco Conference Center and at the Pasadena Convention Center

The certification process consists of an exam (given every two years) plus a post-exam application detailing the candidate's completion of required tasks, experience and education, as well as recommendations.

Applicants practicing in the specialty area since January 2012 may be eligible to sit for the exam provided the task and experience requirements will be met within 36 months following the exam.

Applicants who began practicing in the specialty area after January 2012 may request a Sample Post-Exam Application to begin monitoring compliance with the Program Rules and Standards at Compiling education certificates of attendance [must be within three years of the date of certificiation application] and completion of required tasks in area of specialty will help track progress.

To be eligible for certification, an attorney must generally:

  1. Be an active member of The State Bar of California
    • Workers' Compensation Law applicants also must be in good standing before the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board
    • Immigration and Nationality Law applicants also must meet the definition of "attorney" as set forth in 8 CFR 1.1(f) and shall not be under order of suspension or disbarment by the Board of Immigration Appeals
    • Bankruptcy Law applicants must also be admitted and in good standing before at least one United States District Court within the State of California
  2. Have been engaged in the practice of law in the area in which certification is sought for a minimum of 25 percent of the time the attorney has spent in occupational endeavors during each of the previous five years
  3. Pass a written exam (or meet alternative certification requirements in the areas of Admiralty & Maritime Law and Legal Malpractice Law)
  4. Demonstrate a high level of experience in the specialty field by meeting specific task and experience requirements as listed in the Standards
  5. Complete at least 45 hours of continuing education in the specialty field or a closely related field
  6. Be favorably evaluated by other attorneys and judges who are familiar with the tasks upon which the applicant has relied to satisfy the task requirement

Specific Requirements by Certified Specialty Area

Please review the general program rules and specific specialty standards (below) to view the requirements for certification in your specialty. You can also request a tailored information packet for any one of the 11 practice areas at

Once certification has been granted, all certified specialists must re-certify every five years. Although taking the exam again is not required, there are reasonable recertification requirements that are detailed in the standards for each area of law.

Fees (Effective Jan. 1, 2013)

The Legal Specialization Program is nonprofit and completely self-funded by fees collected from applicants, specialists, education providers and accredited organizations. All fees collected directly support the work of the program.

Annual fee $360
Recertification fee $350 (submitted with re-certification application every five years, but no additional examination is necessary)