In the Fall of 2011, North Carolina’s Board of Legal Specialization will certify its first Appellate Practice Specialist!

The Board of Legal Specialization was established to create a method by which qualified North Carolina lawyers might become certified as specialists in designated areas of the law. The goals of the legal certification program are to:

  • help the public identify lawyers who have demonstrated special knowledge, skill, and proficiency in a specific field.  By identifying these lawyers, members of the public can more closely match their needs with available services


  • improve the competency of members of the bar by establishing an additional incentive for lawyers to participate in continuing legal education and to meet other requirements of specialization.  Appellate practitioners require skills that are not always used by trial attorneys, and vice-versa.

In an effort to improve the quality of advocacy before North Carolina’s appellate courts, the State Bar and North Carolina Supreme Court approved a legal specialization in appellate practice in the Spring of 2011.  The appellate practice specialty joins 9 other specialties (bankruptcy, criminal, elder, estate planning and probate, real property, family, immigration , social security disability, and workers’ compensation).

To be certified as an appellate practice specialist, a lawyer must do five things:

  • be an active member in good standing with the North Carolina State Bar for at least five years;
  • be substantially involved in appellate practice area, including having a minimum number of appellate briefs and oral arguments;
  • attend CLE seminars in the specialty;
  • obtain favorable evaluation in a peer review process, and
  • pass a written examination on appellate practice.

Applications to sit for specialization exam are generally due the last week of July. Applicants for specialization normally sit for the specialization exam in either October or November.

For more information on becoming an appellate specialist, please visit the website for the North Carolina Board of Legal Specialization.