The Best Lawyer Certifications to Advertise (Part A)

How many times have you thumbed through the Yellow Pages or other legal directory and found lawyer advertising that boasts a huge list of credentials? It may seem impressive at first that you would have lawyer certification and approvals, but in reality, the most effort many of these accolades require is a credit card.

Still, showing that you've gone above and beyond law school in your credentials is important to some clients. You need to be aware of what types of lawyer certification and recognitions are worth more than the certificate they're printed on.

Lawyer Certification from the National Board of Trial Advocacy

The national lawyer certification process is conducted by the National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA). This board certifies lawyers in many areas including civil, criminal, and family law trial advocacy. It is accredited by the American Bar Association and underwent a rigorous application process where the panels were chosen by the ABA Standing Committee on Specialization to evaluate each aspect of the NBTA's structure.

To receive lawyer certification from the NBTA, an attorney must: 

  • Be in good standing;
  • Concentrate in the specialty of trial advocacy (you actually GO to trial);
  • Have participated in a minimum of 45 hours of continuing legal education in the last 3 years;
  • Provide references from 3 judges and 3 attorneys familiar with their courtroom abilities;
  • Been lead counsel in a substantial number of trials taken to verdict or judgment;
  • Been lead counsel in at least 40 contested matters involving the taking of evidence such as hearings, motions or depositions; and
  • Pass a trial technique, evidence and ethics essay exam that lasts 6 hours. 

As you can see, this lawyer certification process is much more complicated than filling out an application and providing a credit card! Something else to include as a link on your website is an explanation of what NBTA certification means. Your clients wouldn't know what this certification entails unless you provide that information for them.

A good strategy for your lawyer advertising is to mention you are NBTA board certified, and link that text to your webpage explaining how important that is. Always offer your clients the opportunity to learn more about legal terms they may not be familiar with.

Lawyer Certification from Best Lawyers in America

While NBTA certification is a self-applied certification, gaining recognition from Best Lawyers in America is a different kind of accolade. To become published in the directory of Best Lawyers, you must be nominated by someone who is already a member.

This referral guide is publically available to anyone who wants to access their online database (free to clients). Once listed, your profile not only displays your office information and website, but links to your Bio and Law Firm profile, as well as allowing clients to comment on your listing with testimonials.

Because Best Lawyers is an "invitation only" club, this means that your relationships with other lawyers in your area are critical to becoming a member of this exclusive group. Once in, it's a great addition to your lawyer advertising to be able to say you were selected as one of the few in your geographical area to be listed in the directory.

There are a few more quality pieces of lawyer certification to seek out and use in your lawyer advertising - and many to avoid wasting space on. Keep reading to find out more.

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Ben Glass
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Ben is a nationally recognized expert in attorney marketing and the owner of Great Legal Marketing.