Originally published by Eric Quitugua.
The Texas Board of Legal Specialization certified 239 attorneys and 29 paralegals during its annual induction ceremony on March 6 at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center in Austin.
“In 1975, TBLS swore in the first Texas board-certified attorneys in history. I am proud that 45 years later the program has grown to be one of the biggest legal certification groups in the country,” TBLS Executive Director Leo Figueroa said. “As the number of applicants, board-certified attorneys and paralegals, and specialty areas have increased since then, so has the value of this special certification, and I am proud that TBLS’ newest specialists will be carrying on the legacy of this elite legal status well into the future.”
More than 400 Texas attorneys, paralegals, and family members, as well as Texas Supreme Court justices, attended the ceremony. The newest inductees were sworn in by keynote speaker Justice Jane Bland, who is certified in civil appellate law and civil trial law by TBLS.
During the ceremony, Brian L. Webb, an attorney who was certified in family law since 1980, was posthumously honored with the John F. Sheehy Jr. Distinguished Attorney Award. The award recognizes Webb’s work in the profession, which includes membership on the TBLS Board and TBLS Family Law Exam Commission, the State Bar of Texas Family Law Section, Texas Academy of Family Law Specialists, Texas Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and Texas Family Law Foundation. Natalie and Brant Webb, partners in the Webb Family Law Firm, accepted the award on their father’s behalf.
Troy McKinney received the Tom Garner Award, which is given to a volunteer who has made extraordinary contributions to the TBLS certification program. McKinney, who has been certified in criminal law since 2007 and criminal appellate law since 2011, and has been a member of the TBLS Criminal Law Advisory Commission since 2013.
Of the more than 100,000 attorneys licensed to practice in Texas, only about 7,400 are board certified, according to TBLS. To be a certified attorney, one must be licensed for at least five years, devote a required percentage of practice to a specialty area for a minimum of three years, attend continuing education seminars, be evaluated by lawyers and judges, and pass a six-hour written exam.
Attorneys apply for recertification every five years to maintain certification.
Like with attorneys, board certification for paralegals is voluntary. TBLS-certified paralegals must satisfy experience requirements, attend continuing education seminars, and pass a four-hour written exam. Paralegals apply for recertification every five years to maintain certification.
For more information about the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, go to tbls.org.