Many people who need an attorney after being injured in an accident actually put little thought into the process. Maybe they open up the Yellow Pages and select the one with the flashy ad that stands out, or perhaps they do a quick Google search for the closest one in their community. But the bottom line is that they invest very little research into their choice of who will best represent their interests.
It's not that the clients are remiss in their duties when selecting their attorneys. Consumer laws against false advertising restrict attorneys from claiming to "specialize" in certain areas. While this is a good thing in most cases, to a layperson with little experience in dealing with the law, it can make the selection process more confusing.
The New Jersey Supreme Court offers board certification for attorneys
To thwart the possibility of false advertising in the legal community, the state supreme court has a process in place where attorneys can seek certification in five fields of the law:
- Criminal trial
- Civil trial
- Municipal courts
- Workers' compensation
In addition to helping consumers make more informed choices when choosing which attorneys to retain to represent them, the certification program offers attorneys the opportunity to demonstrate competence in their chosen fields of practice.
What "board certified" truly means
The New Jersey Supreme Court established the Board on Attorney Certification in 1980. In the ensuing 37 years, lawyers in the state have been able to claim the distinction of being "certified attorneys" only if they meet the following criteria:
- Possess the ability to show adequate levels of knowledge, education, skill and experience in a particular practice of the law
- Received peer recognition regarding their reputations and skills in the specialty area of the law that they chose
- Passed rigorous examinations on elements of their areas of practice
- Been members in good standing for a minimum of five years of the state Bar Association
- Able to show considerable engagement when preparing cases for litigation
- Possess unsullied reputations as noted by the judges and lawyers willing to attest to same
- Have completed the required number of continuing legal education courses for the years preceding their applications to the Board
Doctors specialize. Shouldn't attorneys?
If you are suffering from a heart problem, you wouldn't want to be treated by an orthopedist, would you? Of course not - you would demand to see a cardiologist, preferably the best one that you could find. The same holds true with attorneys. If you have been injured in a serious accident, you don't want to retain a divorce lawyer, even if that lawyer enjoys a great reputation in the field of matrimonial law.
That's why so many residents in and around Collingswood retain a board certified civil trial attorney after being injured in a collision with at-fault drivers. They seek the most qualified attorneys to handle the cases that can potentially net them significant settlements or judgments when taken to trial.
While no outcome in court can ever be predetermined or guaranteed, it is possible to tip the scales of justice in your favor by retaining experienced, certified counsel to represent your interests.