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. 

Membership:  CBLS consists of 12 lawyer members and three non-lawyer members. Up to two lawyer members need not be certified specialists; the other lawyer members must be certified specialists.

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 2014-15 vacancies:  7-9 (lawyer and non-lawyer positions)
  • Approximate number of meetings per year: 6
  • Chair: Bryan Hartnell, Redlands
  • Staff contact: Scott Kiddy 415-538-2125

Deadline for 2014 applications: Feb. 3, 2014

2014-15 terms begin: Conclusion of 2014 State Bar Annual Meeting (Sept. 14, 2014)