How Being a Board Certified Specialist in Family Law Helps Me Best Serve My Clients

By Tonya Smith

Experience matters.

Last month, my colleague Kate Kovats wrote about how her previous experience as an Assistant District Attorney helps her now as a divorce lawyer.

This month, I want to explain how being a Board Certified Specialist in Family Law – as recognized by the North Carolina State Bar – helps me best serve my clients.

That certification  empowers me with greater knowledge and a higher degree of expertise in family law matters. It enables me to apply the law quickly, which is especially helpful when unforeseen situations arise inside or outside the courtroom. Just like Kate’s ADA experience helps her think on her feet, my certification ensures quick, critical thinking. (Kate, by the way, will also be going for her Board Certification in Family Law, when eligible, and will be an even greater force as a result.)

I went for my Board certification in my sixth year of practicing family law. You are eligible to work toward it after five years in the field. But five years in I was getting married, changing firms and had a lot on my plate. Instead, I took the exam a year later while six months pregnant.

I went for it, because I wanted to be even more of an expert in my field. The process for becoming Board certified and maintaining that certification is rigorous. You learn layers and layers and pounds and pounds of details, strategies and tactics in family law matters. Then you must take and pass a six-hour exam. The exam is really intense and very specific. There’s no faking your way through; you either know your stuff or you don’t. And you have to commit to a great deal of continuing legal study to keep up that certification every three years. (By the way, you can look up Board Certified Specialists in Family Law on the North Carolina State Bar website.)

There’s a lot of peer recognition out there. Super Lawyers. Business Legal Elite. They’re great and speak to my reputation among my colleagues and the reputation of other lawyers who have garnered such accolades. But being a Board Certified Specialist in Family Law affirms my legal knowledge, know-how and expertise at practicing family law. It confirms I am highly equipped in advising clients and managing their cases. It sets me and my fellow Board Certified Specialists apart from other family law attorneys.

Experience matters. Divorce is complicated. You need a specialist.

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