Why is the distinction of board certification important in Florida?
If you face marital problems and divorce may be on your horizon, it is important to interview family law attorneys to find someone who is a good fit for you personally and for you professionally in handling your particular circumstances. Any number of competent Florida lawyers are available, but if you consider someone who is Board Certified in Marital and Family Law, you will know The Florida Bar has officially recognized them as meeting high criteria specifically within the practice of matrimonial and family law.
At our law firm, attorney Daniel Forrest has been Board Certified since 2012. The rules require recertification every five years. (Normally an attorney must show they met certain quantitative requirements in the five years before the application, but the Florida Supreme Court has temporarily extended this time to seven years prior because of COVID-19’s impact on the active practice of law, at least until Oct. 31, 2022.)
What standards must the lawyer meet to become Board Certified?
Board certification includes a peer review process involving other lawyers as well as judicial officers familiar with the attorney’s reputation and litigation skills. Receiving certification means the lawyer has been identified as having the “special knowledge, skills, and proficiency, as well as the character, ethics, and reputation for professionalism to be properly identified to the public as [a] board certified marital and family [lawyer],” quoting from the applicable Supreme Court of Florida rule.
The Florida Bar administers the rigorous legal specialization program through a 16-member board. Only a very small percentage of family lawyers seek out and accomplish board certification in marital and family law. As of this writing on Nov. 24, 2021, The Florida Bar website’s searchable database shows 270 results for those board certified in marital and family law. (The American Bar Association reports Florida has more than 77,000 lawyers in any area of practice in 2021.)
The certification process also requires the attorney to successfully pass a comprehensive examination as well as participate in ongoing continuing legal education requirements that keep family lawyers up to date on new developments in Florida divorce and related legal matters.
Family law deals with the most personal and sensitive matters in your life – like your children, your standard of living, your future financial stability and your residence. Having a lawyer who is board certified in marital and family law gives you the peace of mind that other professionals have already done the heavy lifting of investigating the attorney’s abilities, knowledge and reputation for excellence.