The New Jersey Supreme Court grants certified trial attorney designations to attorneys practicing in the state who are able to meet rigorous standards set by the American Bar Association and the U.S. Supreme Court. The certification is voluntary and is in effect for individual five-year periods. This accreditation is shared by less than 2% of practicing lawyers.
Stringent Criteria for a Certified Trial Attorney Designation
To earn this designation, an attorney must demonstrate that he meets or exceeds a number of requirements.
- Participates in at least 45 hours of continuing legal education in an ongoing nature in the area of civil certification.
- A member of the New Jersey Bar in good standing for more than five years.
- Experienced in civil litigation – demonstrates a substantial level of skill.
- Prepare and submit a trial court memorandum or brief relevant to his area of practice for which he is seeking certification within the prior three years
- Peer review – favorable evaluations by other legal professionals familiar with the attorney’s work
- Submit professional references – 10 to 12 judges and attorneys who can objectively review and evaluate the attorney’s trial skills within the prior three years.
- Demonstrable extensive litigation experience
- 45 days of trial as lead counsel in no less than five jury trials
- Substantial participation as a litigator in no less than five jury cases that have gone to verdict
- No less than 8 opening statement presentations
- No less than 4 closing arguments
- Jury Examinations – at least five voire dire examinations where permitted
- Jury questions in courts where voire dire examinations are prohibited – no less than 10 instances where the attorney submitted proposed jury questions
- Lay Witness examinations – conduct at least 25 direct and 25 cross
- Expert Witness examinations – conduct no less than 15 direct and 15 cross
- Successfully pass a civil trial law written exam.
Standards of a New Jersey Certified Trial Attorney
These attorneys represent a level of professionalism in trial work that demonstrates extensive litigation skills and experience. Their proficiency in court has been shown to exceed that of most non-certified trial attorneys. Their knowledge and expertise is marked by a dedication and commitment to excelling in court as a litigator throughout the entire process.
With the Certified Trial Attorney designation, potential clients can be assured of a desired level of competence in their attorney when seeking a lawyer in a specific practice area. The client knows his attorney has demonstrated extensive talent and acumen in court, and that he possesses the knowledge, seasoning, preparation and superlative communication skills that make an extremely effective trial attorney.