916-568-1160 [email protected]

Brian McMonagle

Certified Specialist Workers Compensation

Mark Steinberg

Certified Specialist Workers Compensation

David G.W. Belden

Certified Specialist Workers Compensation

The State Bar of California Certified Legal Specialization

The State Bar certifies attorneys as specialists who have gone beyond the standard licensing requirements.

California Rule of Court 9.35 served as the basis for the creation of the State Bar Legal Specialization program. The program was intended to provide a method for attorneys to earn the designation of certified specialist in particular areas of law, increasing public protection and encouraging attorney competence.

The program was the first of its kind in the United States, and it has served as a model for other state programs for certifying legal specialists around the nation.


The general requirements to become a certified specialist include:

  • passage of a written examination in the legal specialty area
  • practiced law continuously for at least five years, spending at least 25 percent of the time given to occupational endeavors practicing in the specialty area
  • completion of continuing education in the specialty area greater than that required of general licensees of the bar
  • demonstration of a broad-based and comprehensive experience in the specialty area based on completion of a variety of matters in the specialty area
  • favorable evaluations by other attorneys and judges familiar with the attorney’s work in the specialty area of law

The State Bar’s Board of Legal Specialization must approve each attorney’s application. Organizations whose certification program is State Bar-accredited can also certify attorneys, but their certification requirements must equal or exceed those of the State Bar of California’s program.

Once certified, specialists must maintain their certification by completing and reporting ongoing tasks and experience by every five years. They must also report 36 hours of Legal Specialist Continuing Legal Education (LSCLE) every three years along with their MCLE compliance group.

Legal Specialty Areas

The State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization certifies legal specialists in the following areas of law:

  • Admiralty and Maritime Law
  • Appellate Law
  • Bankruptcy Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law
  • Family Law
  • Franchise and Distribution Law
  • Immigration and Nationality Law
  • Legal Malpractice Law
  • Taxation Law
  • Workers’ Compensation Law

The Board of Legal Specialization also accredits the following organizations to offer certification in 11 additional areas of law. Contact these organizations directly to begin the certification process.