california Board of Legal Specialization

Appointment Information

The California Board of Legal Specialization (CBLS) administers the State Bar of California Program for Certifying Legal Specialists with the assistance of specialty advisory commissions. The program was created by the California Supreme Court to provide consumer protection and encourage attorney competence.


  • recommends rules and provides policies and guidelines for certification of specialists;
  • develops testing and legal education criteria for specialists and outreach efforts to increase awareness of the program;
  • advises the Board of Trustees on establishment of specialty fields and appointment of advisory commissions;
  • meets approximately six times per year in State Bar offices, and participation on at least one subcommittee via teleconference is mandatory;
  • members serve four-year terms. 

Membership:  CBLS consists of 15 members: 12 lawyers, 10 of whom must be certified specialists, and three non-lawyer public members. Officers include the chair, vice chair and an immediate past chair.

Currently, lawyers can earn certificates of specialization in the following areas of law: Admiralty and Maritime Law, Appellate Law, Bankruptcy Law, Criminal Law, Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law, Family Law, Franchise and Distribution Law, Immigration and Nationality Law, Legal Malpractice Law, Taxation Law, and Workers' Compensation Law.

CBLS tries to achieve a balanced representation of geographic and certified speciality areas (based on the size of the speciality), and also looks for experience in areas such as education, examination development, public relations. Non-lawyer applicants are selected when their experience will contribute to the program's goals, particularly in the areas of outreach and/or strategic planning.

  • Expected 2015-16 vacancies:  5 (lawyer and non-lawyer positions)
  • Approximate number of meetings per year: 6
  • 2014-15 Chair: Curtis Harrington Jr, Long Beach
  • Staff contact: Natalie Leonard 415-538-2118

Deadline for 2015 applications: Feb. 2, 2015

2015-16 terms begin: Conclusion of 2015 State Bar Annual Meeting (Oct. 11, 2015)