The Texas Board of Legal Specialization (TBLS) was established in 1974 by the State Bar of Texas to "promote the availability, accessibility and quality of the services of attorneys to the public in particular areas of the law... and advance the standards of the legal profession." It operates under the continuing jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Texas.
The TBLS certifies attorneys in 21 select areas of law and paralegals in seven areas. The TBLS is the only organization authorized to provide this service to the citizens of Texas.
The Board Certification process is rigorous and thorough with stringent, ongoing requirements after initial certification. In brief, an applicant must:
- have been in practice a minimum of five years with three years of substantial involvement in an area of law,
- complete TBLS-approved Continuing Legal Education course requirements,
- furnish at least 10 qualified, vetted references,
- provide extensive, relevant experience documentation and
- pass a comprehensive, daylong, specialty area examination.
For a more detailed description of the attorney certification process visit Get Certified.
On July 16, 1974, the Texas Supreme Court issued the Texas Plan for Recognition and Regulation of Specialization in the Law order creating the Texas Board of Legal Specialization Board Certification program.
The TBLS serves the public interest and advances quality standards within the legal profession by awarding a Certification of Special Competence to attorneys with demonstrated expertise and knowledge within a specific area of law. In 1975 the first Criminal Law, Family Law and Labor Law Certifications of Special Competence were awarded to 319 Texas attorneys.
Today, the Texas Board of Legal Specialization is the nation's largest and most successful legal board certification program. The TBLS now certifies attorneys in 21 different specialty areas and paralegals in seven specialty areas. It has certified more than 7,000 Texas attorneys, several with multiple certifications, issuing a total of more than 8,300 Certificates of Special Competence.
The Board Certification program is administered by a twelve-member board appointed by the President of the State Bar of Texas. The TBLS is subject to oversight by the Supreme Court of Texas and exercises jurisdiction over all matters pertaining to specialization in the practice of law within Texas.
The Texas Board of Legal Specialization certifies paralegals in seven select areas of law.
Paralegal certification "recognizes and promotes the availability, quality, and utilization of the services of paralegals who, working under the supervision of duly licensed attorneys, have achieved a level of special knowledge in particular areas of law... ."
The paralegal certification process closely parallels the attorney certification process. It includes a thorough assessment of the paralegal's experience under the supervision of a licensed Texas attorney as well as their record of Continuing Legal Education and specialty area duties. It requires the completion of Baccalaureate or higher degree, or completion of an accredited paralegal program or four additional years of relevant experience. References from attorneys, judges and other professionals associated with the specialty area are evaluated, and a passing score on a half day area examination is required. Visit Paralegal Certification for complete information related to the paralegal certification process.
More than 300 paralegals have distinguished themselves with board certification. Begin your search for a Board Certified Paralegal here.
Visit the individual links below for current TBLS news:
The TBLS maintains a list of additional Internet resources for consumers and legal professionals. Professional resources include other Bar Organizations, Certified Attorneys Organizations, Paralegal and TBLS Accredited Attorney Certifying Organizations.