Applicant Questions

  1. What are the benefits of certification?
  2. What are the basic requirements to become certified?
  3. What does it cost to become certified?
  4. How do I apply for Board Certification?
  5. What will happen when I file an application, and how long is the application process?
  6. How can I find TBLS approved continuing legal education (CLE) courses to fulfill the certification requirement?
  7. What is on the exam and are old exams available for review?
  8. Is there a preparatory or CLE course that will help me study?

Q1. What are the benefits of becoming Board Certified?

Professionalism — Certification promotes the availability, accessibility and quality of legal services. It also increases proficiency and encourages attorneys and paralegals to achieve high standards of professional excellence.

Professional Recognition - Recognition from the public and the legal community for having attained a certain level of experience and skill as a specialist . Although not always determinative, the Board Certification is one factor clients consider when selecting an attorney and other attorneys weigh when making referrals.

National Recognition - TBLS currently has the largest number of certified attorneys in the nation. TBLS was the first state-associated program to certify paralegals in specialty areas.

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Q2. What are the basic requirements to become Board Certified?

To become Board Certified in a specialty area, an attorney must have:

Been licensed to practice law for at least five years;

Devoted a required percentage of practice to a specialty area for at least three years;

Handled a wide variety of matters in the area to demonstrate experience and involvement;

Attended continuing education seminars regularly to keep legal training up to date;

Been evaluated by fellow lawyers and judges;

Passed a 6-hour written examination.

To become Board Certified in a specialty area, a paralegal must:

Have at least 5 years experience as a paralegal (3 years in Texas);

Currently work under the supervision of a licensed attorney doing business in Texas;

Have at least 50% of paralegal duties concentrated in specialty areas;

Attended continuing education seminars regularly to keep legal training up to date;

In addition to the above, successfully complete one of the following:

NALA certification, or

Baccalaureate or higher degree, or

ABA approved paralegal program, or

Paralegal program consisting of a minimum of 60 semester credit hours of which 18 hours are substantive legal courses, or

Paralegal program consisting of a minimum of 18 semester credit hours of which 18 hours are substantive legal courses in addition to a minimum of 45 semester credit hours of general college curriculum courses, or

2 additional years of actual paralegal experience under the supervision of a licensed attorney;

Have been evaluated by lawyers, judges and other professionals associated with the specialty area;

Pass a 4-hour written examination.

Please refer to the Standards for Certification General and Specific Area Requirements for a complete detailed explanation of these requirements.

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Q3. What does it cost to become Board Certified?

Current fees are listed in our fee schedule. However, all fees are under review and subject to change. Please visit this site for the most current fee information immediately prior to initiating your application process.

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Q4. How do I apply for Board Certification?

All pertinent certification information is now available on-line at "Get Certified".

The TBLS Online Application process is structured to be as open and convenient as possible within a secure, password protected section of our web site. Your State Bar of Texas Bar Card Number and PIN/Password is required for access.

You have complete control over your application information at all times. As you Add, Update, and Delete information on the site, your content is immediately saved on our secure servers. A "Print Friendly" link enables you to review your progress at any time.

The "MyApplication Summary" page contains everything required for each application. Detailed instructions are provided along the way, plus you always have complete e-mail and telephone contact information for the TBLS Certification Analyst assigned to your area. Help is only an e-mail or phone call away.

We will make every effort to assist you in completing your Online Application. If you have any general send e-mail to TBLS or call 1-855-277-TBLS(8257).

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Q5. What will happen when I file an application, and how long is the application process?

You will be sent an acknowledgment that your application has been received. It will include a file number that you should refer to when calling our office.

The staff does an initial check of your application prior to review by the Advisory Commission and TBLS. A "Staff Deficiency Notice" will be sent if additional information is needed. Please respond as soon as possible to this request for information.

Your application will next be reviewed by the Advisory Commission in the appropriate specialty area. They may also have questions or need additional information. Again, please respond to this request so your application can stay on track.

The TBLS must vote on each certification application individually and they meet in mid-August to do so. You will be notified by mail after a decision is made on your application. If your application is approved you will be sent materials to register for the examination. If your application is denied you may appeal that decision (see TBLS Rules and Regulations).

The entire application and examination process takes approximately 8-9 months to complete.

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Q6. How can I find TBLS approved continuing legal education (CLE) courses to fulfill the certification requirements?

TBLS reviews hundreds of CLE course for specialization approval, and updates the database daily with course information. You can now access TBLS CLE information on-line through the "Get Certified" page. You can now search for upcoming TBLS approved CLE courses in a particular specialty area(s), and also receive a TBLS CLE Summary of activity. These new options will provide you with up-to-date information and quick access through out the year.

You may call TBLS at 1-855-277-TBLS(8257) to request a list of upcoming courses according to your specialty.

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Q7. What is on the exam and are old exams available for review?

Exam Specifications for each specialty exam are available on this site. The specifications and exams are revised annually. All exams are confidential and unavailable for public review.

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Q8. Are there preparatory or CLE courses that will help me study?

TBLS does not sponsor or recommend any specific preparatory course for the exam. However, certified attorneys and paralegals have reported that the State Bar Professional Development Program's Advanced courses are very comprehensive with the most up to date law.