Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Court Adopts Rule Amendments for Attorney Specialization

The Supreme Court of Ohio has adopted rule amendments to the Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio and to the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct concerning attorney specialization.

In Ohio, attorneys may obtain certification as specialists in certain fields of law, such as child welfare law or labor and employment law. The Supreme Court does not directly certify attorneys as specialists, but provides a two-step process for acknowledging their specialization.

First, an organization applies for a field of law to be considered for specialization through the Commission on Certification of Attorneys as Specialists. If accepted by the commission, it recommends the field of law to be approved by the Supreme Court. Second, once the Supreme Court recognizes the field of law, the organization applies to the commission to be accredited to certify attorneys as specialists practicing in that field.

Previously, attorneys were prohibited from communicating that they were a specialist in a field of law unless certified as a specialist by an organization accredited by the Commission on Certification of Attorneys as Specialists. The attorney had to identify the name of the accredited organization in communications – email signature, letterhead, or any promotion.

The adopted amendments enact several changes. While the commission will continue to accredit certifying organizations, the rule change allows any organization, including those not accredited by the commission, to certify attorneys as specialists. Additionally, the amendment removes the Supreme Court from the responsibility of recognizing fields of law for specialization, leaving that determination to the certifying organizations. This change is consistent with specialization systems used in other states.

Finally, the amendments allow attorneys who have been certified as a specialist in a field of law to communicate that fact.

Other amendments move the standards for accreditation within Gov.Bar R. XIV and update some of the rules of service on the commission.