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What are the qualifications for a civil trial specialist in Minnesota?

When you’re injured and need to consider going to trial, whom you choose for legal representation matters greatly.

In theory, any attorney who is licensed to practice in the state of Minnesota can represent you in a civil trial. But the depth and breadth of experience of a Civil Trial Specialist assures you of a certain well-developed skill set for going into the courtroom.

Attaining certification as a Civil Trial Specialist is therefore a special designation that some attorneys choose to pursue to demonstrate their experience and qualifications to their clients and the court.

Currently, there are 10 fields of law where the state of Minnesota allows attorneys to become certified specialists. It is important to understand what a Civil Trial Specialist is and what they bring to the table when it comes to helping you navigate your case.

Here is a summary of key points to know about Minnesota attorneys who are certified as Civil Trial Specialists.

What they are

As an injured person, dealing with litigation can be a difficult and frustrating time in your life. It can be reassuring to know that the person representing your case has experience in court and has attained a Civil Trial Specialist qualification.

The Minnesota State Board of Legal Certification lists several criteria and conditions Civil Trial Specialists must meet to be certified. To become certified, an attorney must have:

  • Significant involvement in civil trial law. To achieve certification, attorneys must have been practicing for a minimum of five years, spending at least half of that time working in civil trial law.
  • Experience in civil trial law. Attorneys must have more than involvement to achieve certification. They must also demonstrate certain standards of experience. Though they are not evaluated on outcomes of their cases, they must meet standards for the number and type of cases they have brought to trial.
  • References of good character. References must be from at least six other lawyers including two judges who can comment on the attorney’s character and knowledge in civil trial law.
  • Education. Attorneys with this certification have at least 45 hours of continuing legal education in civil trial law.
  • Exam and writing sample. Attorneys must prove their knowledge in civil trial law by passing an exam and submitting a sample writing to the Certification Board.
  • Review of conduct. During the certification process, the Board will review the character and conduct of the attorney to decide whether they are eligible for certification. This includes looking at any prior disciplinary action or malpractice claims the attorney may have against him or her.

What they are not

A certified Civil Trial Specialist is still able to practice in other areas of law. The certification is to show specialization in representing parties in federal and state courts in non-criminal matters. Yet an attorney certified in this area can still practice in any area of law.

Although this is a special designation for an attorney, it does not mean that a certified Civil Trial Specialist has won or will win a certain percentage of their cases. It also does not mean that they have won any particular amount of money or gotten specific results for their clients.

As we’ve discussed, however, the certification process for a Civil Trial Specialist is extremely rigorous. Only a very small percentage of attorneys have completed it.

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