Results of Bankruptcy Specialist Exam to be Mailed Today

SAN FRANCISCO, March 15, 2016 — The State Bar of California’s California Board of Legal Specialization reported today that 75 percent of the examinees passed the October 2015 Legal Specialist Examination. If the 551 people who passed the October 2015 exam satisfy the other requirements for certification, they will be able to hold themselves out to the public as certified specialists.

To complete the process, these examinees will need to demonstrate five years’ practice in the specialty area, a heightened level of continuing education and positive peer review from attorneys and judges.

Under State Bar Rule 1-400(D), attorneys can only hold themselves out as certified specialists if they have completed the certification process offered by the State Bar of California or one of five additional entities accredited to certify specialists.

In 2015 the overall pass rate was 75 percent, compared with 72.3 percent in 2013, when the test was last given..

The legal specialist examination is administered every other year in October during odd years.  The examination is one day long and it is composed of two sessions: a morning session containing eight short-answer essay questions weighted at 75 percent of the examination score and an afternoon session containing 75 multiple-choice questions weighted at 25 percent of the examination score.

Attorneys are eligible to register for the legal specialist exam if they are members of the State Bar of California and have practiced in the specialty area for at least 21 months prior to  the examination for at least 25 percent of the time.

Successful examinees who satisfy the other requirements will earn a certificate of specialization and the right to call themselves State Bar certified specialists.

As of Dec. 31, 2015, 4,917 lawyers were State Bar-certified specialists in California, and  220 of those certified specialists were serving as judges. The program for certifying specialists was created in 1973 to help consumers find attorneys who have demonstrated ability and experience in specialized fields of law.

“Consumers can feel confident about a certified specialist’s demonstrated experience and proficiency in their area of law,” says Ricardo Goñi, chair of the California Board of Legal Specialization.

Attorneys can be certified in 11 areas of law: admiralty and maritime, appellate, bankruptcy, criminal, estate planning trust and probate, family, franchise and distribution, immigration and nationality, legal malpractice, taxation and workers’ compensation.

Consumers in need of a certified specialist and attorneys who would like more information about becoming certified can visit or call 415-538-2120.


The State Bar of California is an administrative arm of the California Supreme Court, protecting the public and seeking to improve the justice system for more than 80 years. All lawyers practicing law in California must be members of the State Bar. Membership now stands at about a quarter-million.

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