Arizona Certification for Medical Malpractice Lawyers

The State Bar of Arizona has a Board of Legal Specialization which certifies medical malpractice lawyers as specialists in  in “Personal Injury and Wrongful Death.”   You definitely want a firm like ours, whose lawyers are certified specialists, working for you if you have a medical negligence claim.  Certification as a specialist is a mark of distinction which says the lawyer has a substantially higher degree of competence than the average practitioner who regularly handles matters in that practice area.

The application process for certification as a specialist in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death is quite involved and requires a lawyer to gather and present a great deal of information and documentation related to the lawyer’s experience.   It usually takes many years to accumulate the necessary experience to become eligible for certification.  A detailed description of the certification process and requirements can be found on the Sate Bar’s website at this link 

The following is a synopsis of the primary requirement for certification.

 For 4 of 6 years preceding the application, the lawyer must have been engaged in the active practice of law, with 50% of the lawyer’s practice and a minimum of 1,000 hours annually devoted to personal injury and wrongful death litigation.  50% of those hours must have involved Arizona cases.   The lawyer must submit 5 references.  The Board will select an additional 5 from the materials provided with the application.  The Board will conduct a thorough investigation based on these references.  The lawyer must also take a written examination which requires the lawyer to demonstrate “substantially complete knowledge” of the substantive law and the rules of practice, procedure, evidence and ethics pertaining to personal injury and wrongful death litigation.

 At the heart of the certification process is a points system with two components.  A lawyer must obtain a combined 180 points to become eligible to submit an application most of which involve some aspect of litigation.  Under component one, a candidate may, but is not required to, accumulate a total of 80 points, with one point awarded for each of the following activities:

 1.  settling a catastrophic injury case (a case where the value of the injuries exceeds $250.000.00) or a wrongful death case after responsive pleadings are filed (maximum of 5 points)

2.  taking an arbitration case to award (maximum 15 points)

3.  resolving a case through settlement or mediation (maximum 15 points)

4.  teaching a personal injury seminar (maximum 5 points)

5.  trying a case to verdict solo (maximum 5 points)

6.  having an article published in a recognized periodical (maximum 5 points)

7.  writing the brief and arguing a case on appeal (maximum 10 points)

8. prevailing on a case described in No. 7 (maximum 10 points)

 9. completing the State Bar of Arizona College of Trial Advocacy (10 points)

Under component two, an unlimited number of points are available for trial work, but a minimum of 100 points is required.  Under this component, a lawyer must serve as lead counsel in at least 5 cases tried through closing argument.  Points are awards for various activities performed during a trial with the maximum number of points available per trial is 13. Therefore, a lawyer should expect to have primary responsibility for somewhere between 10 and 20 trials to achieve the number of points necessary for certification, assuming the lawyer also accumulates a substantial number of points under component one.

 The Arizona State Bar lists those certified in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death.

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