The Texas Board of Legal Specialization (TBLS) was established in 1974 by the Supreme Court of Texas at the request of 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." TBLS operates under the continuing jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Texas and TBLS has jurisdiction of all matters pertaining to specialization in the practice of law.
The TBLS certifies attorneys in 24 areas of law and paralegals in 8 specialty 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:
- be an active member in good standing of the State Bar of Texas,
- have been engaged in the practice of law for a period of at least 5 years on a full-time basis,
- depending on the specialty area, have a minimum of 3 to 5 years substantial experience in the specialty area,
- complete 60 hours of TBLS-approved continuing legal education courses in the specialty area within the 3 years preceding application,
- furnish at least 5 qualified, vetted references,
- provide extensive, relevant experience information and documentation,
- meet each of the requirements set forth in TBLS Standards for Attorney Certification (General Requirements and Specific Area Requirements), and
- pass a comprehensive, daylong, specialty area examination.
For more information about 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 Certificate of Special Competence to attorneys with demonstrated expertise and knowledge within a specific area of law.
The Texas Board of Legal Specialization is the nation's largest and most successful legal board certification program. It has more than 7,350 Board Certified Texas attorneys, several with multiple certifications, holding a total of more than 8,450 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 with the approval of its Board of Directors. 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 Attorney Rules and Regulations and Standards for Certification outline the program requirements, regulations and guidelines.
The Texas Board of Legal Specialization certifies paralegals in 8 select areas of law: Bankruptcy Law, Civil Trial Law, Criminal Law, Estate Planning & Probate Law, Family Law, Oil, Gas & Mineral Law, Personal Injury Trial Law, and Real Estate 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 meeting at least 5 years of actual experience as a paralegal, 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 in the specialty area, and a description of specialty area duties. It also requires the completion of Baccalaureate or higher degree, or completion of an accredited paralegal program, or two additional years of relevant experience for a total of 7 years of actual experience, and a passing score on a half-day specialty area examination.
More than 380 paralegals have distinguished themselves with board certification. Visit the Texas Board of Legal Specialization - Board Certified Paralegal web site for complete information related to the paralegal certification process.
Visit the individual links below for current TBLS news: