How Do You Choose an Attorney?

How Do You Choose an Attorney?

It’s confusing trying to choose an attorney. You may have never needed an attorney before, so you ask a friend to refer you to someone, or look in the Yellow Pages where hundreds, or even thousands of attorneys are listed. But how do can you be sure that you will choose the right attorney to handle your particular legal problem?

Finding the right attorney is to your benefit and to the attorney’s as well. That is why the Supreme Court of New Jersey has directed the Board on Attorney Certification to carry out the certification program in an effort to raise the level of competence of attorneys in this State.

Q: What is a certified criminal trial attorney?

A: Certified criminal trial attorney is a designation granted by the New Jersey Supreme Court to attorneys who are able to demonstrate sufficient levels of experience, education, knowledge, and skill in criminal trial practice. The Supreme Court, through it’s Board on Attorney Certification, designates only those lawyers who apply for certification and who are able to meet the standards set by the Board and approved by the Court.

Q: What does it mean when an attorney is certified?

A: A certified attorney is more than just an attorney who specializes in a particular area of law. A New Jersey attorney who is certified by the Supreme Court as a criminal trial attorney must have:

  • Been a member in good standing of the New Jersey bar for over 5 years
  • Fulfilled ongoing continuing legal education requirements
  • Demonstrated a substantial level of experience in criminal trial law
  • Been favorably evaluated by other attorneys and judges familiar with his or her work
  • Taken and passed a written examination in criminal trial law.

Q: Why does New Jersey have a certification program?

A: The Certification program helps the public find attorneys who have demonstrated proficiency in specialized fields of law. Certification helps lawyers by giving them a way to make their experience known to the public and to other lawyers. Certification also encourages the maintenance and improvement of attorney competence in specialized fields of law.

Q: In what areas of law does the New Jersey Supreme Court certify attorneys?

A: At present, there are four specialty areas of practice that are approved for certification by the Supreme Court of New Jersey: civil trial law; criminal trial law; matrimonial law; and workers’ compensation law.

Q: How many attorneys are certified in New Jersey?

A: As of December 31, 2002, out of 56,446 active lawyers in New Jersey, 1,554 currently hold Board certification.

Q: How does the consumer know if an attorney is Board certified?

A: Although many practicing trial attorneys now advertise in newspapers, on television, and in the Yellow Pages, only attorneys certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court are entitled to use the designation “Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Criminal Trial Attorney” on their letterhead, business cards, Yellow Pages listings, or in their advertisements.

Q: What if I have more questions or need to find out more about certification?

A: Anyone in need of more information regarding the certification program should address his or her questions to:
Board on Attorney Certification
P.O. Box 970
Trenton, NJ 08625-0970
(609) 984-3077