The National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to bettering the quality of trial advocacy in our nation’s courtrooms and assisting the consumer of legal services in finding experienced and highly qualified trial lawyers. NBTA is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) to certify lawyers in the specialty areas of civil, criminal and family law trial advocacy.
The standards are as follows:
- Good Standing: Applicants must be a member of the bar in good standing. All applicants submit a comprehensive history of professional conduct and disclose any disciplinary action, past or pending.
- Concentration in the Specialty of Trial Advocacy: A minimum of 30% concentration in the field in which the attorney seeks certification for at least the three years immediately preceding application.
- Writing Sample: Submission of a writing sample in the form of a trial brief, prepared by the applicant, and submitted to a court of law within the three years immediately preceding application for certification.
- Continuing Legal Education: Participation in at least 45 hours of continuing legal education in the three years immediately preceding application. The educational seminars must pertain to trial advocacy in the field in which the attorney seeks certification.
- Judicial and Attorney Peer Review: Provision of three judges and three attorneys familiar with the applicant’s courtroom abilities.
- Trials: Lead counsel in a number of trials to verdict or judgment and a sampling of other trial and courtroom skills that are documented in checklist form.
- Lead Counsel in Contested Matters: In addition to the trials, all applicants must document lead counsel in 40 contested matters involving the taking of evidence, such as hearings, motions or depositions.
- Examination: Applicants must successfully pass the NBTA examination which is an all essay, trial techniques, evidence and ethics exam lasting six hours. The exam is written and graded by trial lawyers and law professors. The exam process is overseen by the NBTA Examination Committee and Board of Examiners.
Once an attorney has met and documented the standards for NBTA certification (Civil, Criminal, or Family Law, or Social Security Disability), he or she remains an active member for five years, subject to annual reporting which continues to meet the requirements of the Standards Committee. Once the five year period is completed, the member is required to apply for recertification.