Attorneys who wish to apply for certification do so by following the process outlined below. Application deadlines and applicable fees may be found in Fees & Deadlines.
Certification Task List:
- Before starting the application, review TBLS Attorney Standards for Certification Part I (General Requirements) and Part II (Specific Area Requirements).
- You must be an active member in good standing of the State Bar of Texas to be eligible to apply.
- All qualification requirements are based on a calendar year (January 1 - December 31).
- Completion of 60 hours of TBLS approved continuing legal education in the specialty area is required within the 3 years preceding application, through December 31st of the year of application.
- Prior to submitting an application, contact the individuals listed as references on your application. Inform them they will be receiving a TBLS Statement of Reference form.
- For the Trial specialty areas, when listing substantial involvement, include only concluded matters. TBLS does not accept pending trial matters.
- Complete the Online Application by the filing deadline during the open period.
- Pay the Application fee (you can pay online with a credit card or by check). Click Submit to file your Online Application.
- Upon receipt of your completed application and application fee, a TBLS Certification Analyst performs an initial administrative check and identifies any deficiencies. The appropriate TBLS specialty area Advisory Commission reviews and provides a recommendation (approve or deny) on each attorney’s application. The Advisory Commission recommendations are then submitted to the TBLS Board for vote. Approved applicants are allowed to take specialty area examinations administered in October of the year of application.
- Important Note Regarding Discipline. The TBLS Attorney Standards for Certification Part I (General Requirements) and TBLS Rules and Regulations state that the attorney has an obligation to disclose and report to TBLS any finding of professional misconduct as defined in Rule 8.04 of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct that has been made against him or her by any authorized disciplinary authority, including a court, and shall also disclose whether he or she has a pending investigation for professional misconduct. This obligation CONTINUES throughout the application process and AFTER CERTIFICATION FOR AS LONG AS THE ATTORNEY IS CERTIFIED. Disclosure of conduct also includes conviction of a serious crime or a finding of ineffective assistance of counsel.
- Approved applicants receive examination registration information by mail or email, pay the appropriate Attorney Examination fee then take a day-long examination. Exams are administered only once each year.
- Attorney Exam Specifications for each specialty area concerning exam topics subject matter are available online for use in preparing for exams. TBLS does not provide sample exams.
- Examination results are sent to the applicant by mail and email.
- Upon meeting all qualifications and passing the examination, an attorney is considered Board Certified and is granted a Certificate of Special Competence in a specialty area of law.
Should you experience any difficulties, please contact TBLS or call us at 1-855-277-TBLS(8257), or 512-706-4500 in Austin. One of our Certification Analysts will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have regarding the certification process.