The Best Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys are Specialists who are officially certified by The Florida Bar
Florida has over 90,000 lawyers regulated by the leading authorities on law and lawyer regulation in the state, The Florida Bar and the Florida Supreme Court. Both have led the fight to protect consumers from false advertising and manipulative claims regarding legal services. In 1982, the Florida Supreme Court implemented board certification in order to help consumers identify actual specialists in several different areas of law.
Law is more than a profession, it is also a competitive business. Certification was needed for many reasons, especially for consumers. Consumers are subjected to many deceptive claims about a legal provider’s skill, particularly on the Internet and in other media. For example, law firms will imply special expertise with claims such as “DUI only” or “100% criminal defense” which implies an expertise that may not actually exist.
This is why The Florida Bar is very specific about what claims a lawyer or law firm may make about a lawyer’s skill:
“Board Certified,” “Specialist,” “Expert” or to use the letters “B.C.S.” for Board Certified Specialist on business cards or letterhead, in legal directories or in advertising.” ~The Florida Bar
Nevertheless, this does not stop many lawyers from using Internet “rating services” as a way to get around the requirements of board certification and being a recognized expert. Why?
Board certification is extremely hard in Florida. There are currently twenty-four areas of certification including criminal law (trial and appellate), and at a minimum, a lawyer must have:
- a minimum of five (5) years of experience – and virtually all certified lawyers have much, much more
- a two day exam that is significantly more difficult than the Bar Exam for general membership
- actual trial experience involving cases of a serious and complex nature
- each trial is carefully scrutinized by a panel of criminal law specialists
- thorough peer review – not just criminal defense lawyers – including prosecutors and judges is required
- additional criminal law Continuing Legal Education (CLE) requirements above and beyond what uncertified lawyers are required to complete
- certification only lasts for a period of five (5) years: a certified specialist must recertify every five (5) years
Most attorneys practicing law in Florida are actually not certified by The Florida Bar
This may seem hard to believe, but most lawyers who practice law in Florida are not certified as specialists. In anything. You may wonder: how can any of the uncertified lawyers be considered specialists in anything?
According to the Florida Bar:
“The very difficult testing and extensive background peer review to confirm professional conduct is such a high standard that just seven percent of our eligible membership has achieved this level of recognition. All board certified attorneys should be extremely proud of their accomplishment.”
~ Florida Bar President
This is straight from the certification explanation published by the Bar: only seven percent (7%) of the entire membership is certified as experts in twenty-four (24) specific areas. When the math is done, that turns out to be around 4,600 lawyers out of almost 90,000 members of The Florida Bar. This sounds like you would have a lot of choice when it comes to selecting a criminal defense lawyer. But for criminal law, the number is not even a lofty seven percent (7%).
Less than 0.5% of all Florida Bar Members and most defense attorneys are officially certified Criminal Law Experts
Criminal trial law is one of twenty four areas: this means that less than one half of one percent (>0.5%) of all Florida Bar members is certified in criminal law.
Ask yourself a question: who are the best criminal law attorneys in Florida? Uncertified lawyers promoted by Internet rating services or lawyers certified as specialists in criminal law by The Florida Bar? It’s not even close.
An unwary consumer looking for the best criminal defense attorneys in the state has a 99.5% chance of selecting an uncertified lawyer just by relying on search engines and rating sites. In contrast, Florida Criminal Law Experts will only list the best criminal law attorneys in Florida: lawyers officially certified as specialists by The Florida Bar.