Throughout its history, Schwebel Goetz & Sieben has striven to provide top-tier legal representation for individuals in the Twin Cities and beyond. While our enviable record of success and strong relationships with current and former clients speak volumes about our abilities, it’s important to highlight an often-overlooked strength of our practice.
According to the Minnesota State Bar Association, fewer than 3 percent Minnesota’s attorneys are board certified as specialists in their respective fields. By contrast, about 73 percent of all Minnesota physicians were board certified as of 2009. For some specialties, the figure is even higher: According to the Minnesota Department of Health, 91 percent of the state’s cardiovascular surgeons held current certifications in 2009. When choosing a physician or surgeon, many patients simply exclude non-certified professionals from consideration.
At Schwebel Goetz & Sieben, we believe that personal injury lawyers should be held to the same high standard as medical professionals. As such, we’re proud that more than half of our partners and staff attorneys are board certified by the Minnesota State Bar Association as well as the American Bar Association. As our newer attorneys seek board certification in personal injury practice, we’re confident that this figure will continue to rise.
Just as medical board certification assures care-seekers that they’ll be well cared-for by their doctor, the rigorous board certification protocols employed by the MSBA and ABA ensure that our certified attorneys operate at the top of their game. For our clients, certification is an important marker of trust and competency.
Board certification is a rigorous process that requires candidates to prove their expertise in a particular area of law. According to the Minnesota State Bar Association, board certification candidates in all legal specialties must prove that they have significant experience and expertise in their chosen specialty. Specifically, the MSBA requires that:
The American Bar Association’s certification requirements are similar. Once an attorney receives board certification from the MSBA or ABA, they’re permitted to add the term "Certified Specialist" to their professional title. This assures potential clients, peers and members of the general public that they have distinguished themselves from other attorneys in their field.
It’s important to note that it’s a serious ethical violation for a non-certified attorney to claim that they’re "certified in" or "specialize in" a particular practice area.
Although lawyers aren’t required to obtain board certification to practice in a specific area, this distinction offers some key benefits for prospective clients.
First, board certification is an objective standard that non-lawyers can use to judge the skills and credentials of an attorney. Lawyers who lack significant experience – and the professional references that follow – in a particular practice area are ineligible for board certification in that field. While any lawyer can advertise a particular practice area, the strict the ethical protocols that surround certification preclude casual claims of "specialization" and allow prospective clients to choose a representative with confidence.
Moreover, board certification serves as a clear indication of passion, discipline and commitment to professional excellence. The Minnesota State Bar Association requires board certified attorneys to submit to a detailed annual audit that covers each attorney’s activity in their area of certification over the prior year. If an attorney fails to show adequate professional activity during the period, he or she may temporarily lose certification. Additionally, this audit ensures that each certified attorney remains in good standing. Attorneys found guilty of violating codes of professionalism or ethics – or failing to report such violations – may lose their certification as well.
If you’ve suffered a serious injury, selecting a board certified personal injury lawyer is a sound investment. Although the process of pursuing a claim against a negligent party can seem intimidating, you don’t have to do it on your own. At Schwebel Goetz & Sieben, we understand the gravity of our obligations to our clients and strive to provide unequaled legal representation in all manner of personal injury cases. As Minnesota’s largest personal injury firm, we’ve secured favorable outcomes for hundreds of clients in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas.
To learn more about your family’s legal options in the aftermath of an injury that affects you or a loved one, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our trusted team of personal injury experts. For a no-obligation consultation, call (612) 377-7777 or 1-800-752-4265 (toll free) at your earliest convenience.