The North Carolina State Bar announced last week that four attorneys had met the practice requirements and passed the examination necessary to be designated as Board Certified Specialists in Appellate Practice.  Congratulations to Pat Kane, Kip Nelson, Sherri Horner Lawrence, and Mark Sigmon!

With the addition of Pat and Kip to the rank of specialist, Fox Rothschild (nee Smith Moore Leatherwood) now boasts five board certified specialists as members of the firm’s North Carolina appellate team.  Moreover, Fox has other accomplished appellate practitioners such as Tom Terrell, my office neighbor, who practices mostly land use law but makes frequent appearances in the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

According to the North Carolina State Bar, the specialization program assists the public by “identifying lawyers who have demonstrated special knowledge, skill, and proficiency in certain areas of law.”

The program has been highly successful in enhancing professionalism throughout the bar.  For each area of specialization, there is a subcommittee of experienced practitioners that reviews the applicants’ experience and qualifications, and prepares the examinations.  Recognizing that different areas of practice call for different skills, each subcommittee customizes the requirements to apply and the exam to reflect the real world.

Certification gives more than just bragging rights (though as Dizzy Dean said, it ain’t bragging if you can prove it).  When I’m asked to recommend a practitioner in another town, the first place I look is the latest Directory of Board Certified Specialists.  I am confident that any referral I give from that list will be sound.  For those of you harboring ambitions to wear a robe, I also note in passing that Board Certified Specialist in Appellate Practice Toby Hampson is now en route to a seat on the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

Readers of this blog should consider specialization.  I know we all took an oath after passing the bar never to take another examination ever in a million years so help me Hannah.  You should reconsider.  Specialization opens many doors.  Join Pat, Kip, Sherri, and Mark on their upward trajectory.

–Bob Edmunds