Q&A: Legal Specialization a Boon For Consumers, 0417 CABJ, CBJ - April 2017 #03

Q&A: Legal Specialization a Boon For Consumers

No. 2017 #03

California Bar Journal

April, 2017

Editor's note: Los Angeles-based bankruptcy attorney J. Scott Bovitz originally spoke about the benefits of becoming a certified legal specialist in a California Bar Journal story from August 2013, but his observations remain true today. Bovitz has served on the State Bar's Board of Legal Specialization and is currently a director on the American Board of Certification, the national legal specialty certification organization.

Register for the next Legal Specialist Examination scheduled for Oct. 24, 2017 and receive a significant discount. The exam fee is only $100 if you register by May 1. The application for the test is on the State Bar's Legal Specialist page. Registration closes Oct. 2.

Tell us why becoming a certified legal specialist is a good thing.

One of the things it does from a personal standpoint is it tells the client that you know your substantive law. That kind of gives the client a sense of comfort. They can get right down to the facts without worrying about whether you have marginal qualifications in that field. The other thing it does is it helps you as a lawyer find other people you can refer cases to, perhaps in a jurisdiction where you don't know someone very well. You can be comfortable you are not just handing it off to some person who is marginally qualified in that area. It helps identify people who are leaders within this community. It also helps in a meeting with someone whom you don't know. Sometimes there's some sumo wrestling and chest thumping: "Gee, does this person know their stuff?" It kind of makes that unnecessary. If they are a legal specialist you can kind of presume they do and get down to the merits.

You've been certified [with the State Bar's Board of Legal Specialization] since 1994. Can you just talk a little bit about what went into your decision?

What led to my choice is I always wanted to be on my own, like [the television attorney] Perry Mason with [his secretary] Delia Street. I was able to convince my spouse, lawyer Susan Spitzer, to join me. We needed a way to tell people that as a small law firm of two lawyers and one assistant, we were capable of doing work at a high level. I am a bankruptcy litigator, and I get work primarily from other lawyers and occasionally from corporations and wanted a way to tell general counsel in just a snapshot that I was qualified.

Even now...

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