A new practice specialty in Child Welfare Law has been proposed by the NC State Bar.
At its January meeting, the State Bar council published the proposal and requested comments on it. The standards for the proposed specialty are comparable to the standards for the other specialty certifications.
If approved, Child Welfare Law would become the 14th practice specialty area recognized by the bar. The other areas: appellate practice, bankruptcy law, criminal law (includes a subspecialty in juvenile delinquency law), elder law, estate planning, family law, immigration law, privacy and information security law, real property law, social security disability law, trademark law, utilities law, and workers compensation.
Download an application for specialty certification and learn more about the program here. Application forms will be posted on March 1, 2021. The certification application period is from March 1 through May 3, 2021.
If you know a lawyer who you think is qualified to be a specialist, email his/her name and practice area to email@example.com.
Click here for a synopsis of the State Bar Council’s January meeting.
Click here to comment on the proposed new specialty in Child Welfare Law.
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Rule of Professional Conduct 7.4 Communication of Fields of Practice and Specialization
(a) A lawyer may communicate the fact that the lawyer does or does not practice in particular fields of law.
(b) A lawyer shall not state or imply that the lawyer is certified as a specialist in a field of practice unless:
(1) the certification was granted by the North Carolina State Bar;
(2) the certification was granted by an organization that is accredited by the North Carolina State Bar; or
(3) the certification was granted by an organization that is accredited by the American Bar Association under procedures and criteria endorsed by the North Carolina State Bar; and
(4) the name of the certifying organization is clearly identified in the communication.
Comment  The use of the word “specialize” in any of its variant forms connotes to the public a particular expertise often subject to recognition by the state. Indeed, the North Carolina State Bar has instituted programs providing for official certification of specialists in certain areas of practice…. To avoid misrepresentation and deception, a lawyer may not communicate that the lawyer has been recognized or certified as a specialist in a particular field of law, except as provided by this rule. The rule requires that a representation of specialty may be made only if the certifying organization is the North Carolina State Bar, an organization accredited by the North Carolina State Bar, or an organization accredited by the American Bar Association under procedures approved by the North Carolina State Bar. To ensure that consumers can obtain access to useful information about an organization granting certification, the name of the certifying organization or agency must be included in any communication regarding the certification.
 A lawyer may, however, describe his or her practice without using the term “specialize” in any manner which is truthful and not misleading. This rule specifically permits a lawyer to indicate areas of practice in communications about the lawyer's services. If a lawyer practices only in certain fields, or will not accept matters except in a specified field or fields, the lawyer is permitted to so indicate. The lawyer may, for instance, indicate a “concentration” or an “interest” or a “limitation.”
Jay Reeves is author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World. He practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. Now he writes and speaks at CLEs, keynotes and in-firm presentations on lawyer professionalism and well-being. He runs Your Law Life LLC, which offers confidential, one-on-one consultations to sharpen your firm’s mission and design an excellent Law Life. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-619-2441.