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Why Hire a Certified Criminal Trial Attorney

How Do You Choose The Best Attorney For Your Needs?

Choosing an attorney is confusing. You may have never needed an attorney before, so you ask a friend to refer you to someone, or you look in the Yellow Pages where hundreds or even thousands of attorneys are listed. How do you choose one attorney over another? How can you be sure that you will choose the right attorney to handle your particular legal problem?

This article has been written to help you make the choice. It will answer your questions about choosing a qualified and highly trained attorney with focus in the area of law relating to your special problem.

Finding the right attorney is to your benefit and to the attorney's as well. That is why the Supreme Court of New Jersey has directed the Board on Attorney Certification to carry out the certification program in an effort to raise the level of competence of attorneys in this state. This program is designed to help you make an informed decision when seeking and selecting an attorney.

Q: What is a certified trial attorney?

A: Certified trial attorney is a designation granted by the New Jersey Supreme Court to criminal trial attorneys who are able to demonstrate sufficient levels of experience, education, knowledge, and skill in criminal trial practice. The Supreme Court, through its Board on Attorney Certification, designates only those lawyers who apply for certification and who are able to meet the standards set by the Board and approved by the Court.

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Q: What does it mean when an attorney is certified?

A: A New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Attorney is more than just an attorney who concentrates in a particular area of law. An attorney must meet the following requirements to become certified:

  • Has been a member in good standing of the New Jersey Bar for at least five years;
  • Has taken a specific number of continuing legal education courses in the years prior to filing an application;
  • Demonstrates substantial involvement in preparation of litigated matters;
  • Demonstrates an unblemished reputation by submitting a list of attorneys and judges who will attest to the applicant's character and ability; and
  • Passes a written examination covering various aspects of practice in the designated specialty.

Q: Why does New Jersey have a certification program?

A: The certification program helps the public find attorneys who have demonstrated proficiency in specialized fields of law. Certification helps lawyers by giving them a way to make their experience known to the public and to other lawyers. Certification also encourages the maintenance and improvement of attorney competence in specialized fields of law.

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Q: In what areas of law does the New Jersey Supreme Court certify attorneys?

A: At present, there are four specialty areas of practice that are approved for certification by the Supreme Court of New Jersey: civil trial law, criminal trial law and matrimonial law.

Q: How many attorneys are certified in New Jersey?

A: As of August 1999, out of approximately 68,700 lawyers in New Jersey, 1,450 were board certified. Only a small number of those certified attorneys are criminal trial certified.

Q: How does the consumer know if an attorney is board certified?

A: Although many practicing trial attorneys now advertise in newspapers, on television, and in the Yellow Pages, only New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Attorneys are entitled to use the designation "Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Criminal Trial Attorney" on their letterhead, business cards, Yellow Pages listings, or in their advertisements. The certification is also listed in the Lawyers Diary (professional listing of attorneys admitted to practice law in New Jersey).

* (Source: The Supreme Court of the State of New Jersey - Publication pamphlet on Certified Criminal Trial Attorneys in the State of New Jersey).

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