What is a certified attorney specialist?
All attorneys licensed to practice law in Ohio must have graduated from an accredited law school, passed an intensive examination, and attended continuing legal education courses as required by the Supreme Court of Ohio. Some attorneys who devote a large part of their practice to a particular area of the law may choose to go beyond these requirements to earn specialty certification. This means that they have:
- Demonstrated substantial and continuing involvement in a particular field of law, meaning they must devote at least 25 percent of their practice to an area of law;
- Submitted five individual references attesting to their competency in the specialty field;
- Earned a minimum of 36 hours of intermediate or advanced continuing legal education credits in the specialty area during the past three years as part of the continuing legal education credits required of all attorneys;
- Remained in good standing with the Supreme Court of Ohio; and
- Proven financial responsibility by maintaining minimum professional liability insurance coverage.
Attorneys who have earned specialty certification must be recertified at least every seven years and must earn a minimum of 12 continuing legal education credits in the specialty area every two years.
Who certifies attorneys as specialist?
The Supreme Court of Ohio established a Commission on Certification of Attorneys as Specialists to:
- Identify specialists; and
- Set minimum standards for certification as specialists.
Agencies that provide ongoing education for lawyers may submit their certification programs to the court for approval. Once accredited by the Supreme Court of Ohio, these agencies can then offer their certification programs to Ohio attorneys who wish to become specialists in those particular fields of law. The Ohio State Bar Association is the largest certifying agency in Ohio.
What areas of the law has the Supreme Court of Ohio approved as specialty areas?
The areas of law approved for specialty certification include: administrative agency law; appellate law; business bankruptcy law; business law; commercial and real property law; civil trial advocacy; consumer bankruptcy law; creditors' rights/debt collection; criminal trial advocacy; elder law; estate planning, trust and probate law; family relations law; federal taxation law; insurance coverage law; labor and employment law; residential real property law; and workers' compensation law.
Some of these areas may not yet have accredited specialty programs available, and some have been combined. Other fields of law may be added to the Supreme Court's list in the future.
How do I know if an attorney is a certified specialist?
Look for a special designation that reads "certified by the Ohio State Bar Association" or another reputable agency on business cards, letterhead or in advertising. You may also want to ask attorneys you contact if they are a certified specialist.
How do I find a specialist?
If you already have a relationship with an attorney, talk to that attorney about your legal needs and ask if you should speak with a specialist. For a complete list of all OSBA certified specialists click on the link provided below.
OSBA Certified Specialists by practice area
What if my area of interest is not listed above?
Ohio Supreme Court Commission on Certification of Attorneys as Specialists
and click on the link called
Accredited Agencies and Specialty Programs
. This is a list of all agencies in Ohio that have been accredited by the Supreme Court of Ohio to certify attorneys as specialists in areas of practice. Find your area of interest, contact that accredited agency and ask them to verify that the attorney you are interested in is a certified specialist.
For more information on the Specialization Program, contact Christopher Roudez, Committee, Section and Certification Services Coordinator, at (614) 487-4469 or email