What is a ‘specialist’?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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We use the term “specialist” in its everyday meaning among people – a lawyer who has had significantly more than the usual amount of training and experience in a particular Practice Area and who also devotes a significant portion of his or her time to practicing in that Practice Area.

Some states prohibit a lawyer from referring to him/herself as a “specialist” altogether. Others limit use of the term “specialist” to lawyers who have had a fixed number of years of experience in the Practice Area (which can vary from state to state) and have had certain additional training, and have either passed one or more examinations in the Practice Area, or been excused from the exams for one reason or another. Others allow lawyers to call themselves specialists but not “Certified Specialists” and limit the latter term to those who met the above criteria.

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