As a person seeking a Florida criminal defense attorney, one of the most difficult tasks you can face is evaluating the credentials of the thousands of lawyers that are available to represent you. After all, if you are looking for a criminal defense lawyer, you may be facing serious legal sanctions, including probation, fines, restitution, or even jail time. As a result, you obviously want to retain the best attorney available. A good lawyer can help someone facing a criminal case in many ways, and can often have a significant impact in the ultimate outcome of a case.
Not all endorsements are created equal
Many practicing attorneys list their accolades on their websites and other promotional materials. Between the the National Association of Trial Lawyers, “Superb” Avvo ratings, the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and The National Advocates, it can all get a bit confusing. While these distinctions have merit, the reality is that they are awarded by private organizations that exist in part to create attorney directories and provide a forum to promote their members.
A Highly Regulated Profession
Every attorney licensed to practice law in the state of Florida has undergone a thorough background check conducted by the Florida Bar Association. The bar regulates a variety of issues regarding the practice of law, including requirements to practice, ethics, attorney’s fees, and advertising. In addition, in the state of Florida, in order for lawyers to call themselves criminal law “specialists,” they must become certified by the bar.
In order to become certified as a specialist in criminal law, a lawyer must meet the following criteria:
- Have practiced law for at least five years, with at least 30 percent of his or her practice devoted to criminal law.
- Tried at least 25 cases, 20 of which must have gone to a jury verdict, and 15 of which must have involved a felony.
- Have submitted a brief or memorandum to a court that argued substantial issues of law. The quality of the memorandum or brief will be considered by the bar when deciding whether to certify a lawyer as a criminal law specialist.
- Obtain the endorsement of at least 4 other attorneys.
- Pass a specialized examination.
Once a lawyer meets all of the above requirements, the Florida Bar may decide to certify that lawyer as a criminal defense specialist.
Hiring a bar certified attorney ensures that your lawyer is experienced in the area of law relevant to your legal issue. In addition, consumers can rest assured that their attorney’s credentials were awarded on the basis of merit and not purchased on a private internet directory site. Certification as a specialist by the Florida Bar is one of the best ways to identify that a criminal defense attorney has the extensive experience and qualifications necessary to successfully handle your case.