New Standards for Lawyers Seeking Texas Board Certification in Civil Trial Law

The Texas Supreme Court has approved new standards in regards to becoming board certified in civil trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Members of the Court, as well as the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and their Advisory Committee, worked with Exam Commissioners and the State Bar of Texas to update the certification criteria to make them more flexible. Because of the decreased availability of jury trials throughout not only Texas, but the nation, board certification organizers have been forced to alter criteria to continue to certify potential applicants.

The two major focal points were changes to allow federal and Texas trials to count towards board certification requirements, and allowing all applicants to substitute out of state jury, criminal, and certain contested administrative agency proceedings for nonjury trials. Other cases that are available for substitution are arbitrations where formal rules of evidence and procedure are used, including cases that had both opening statements and witness examination, and temporary injunctions that involved opening and closing statements with cross-examination of witnesses.

These standards do not carry the same burdens and experience as previous standards, and it remains to be seen if this will lower the value of this board certification.