MSBA Certified Specialist

About the MSBA Certified Legal Specialist Program

Many people seek out professionals who are board certified in their fields. Discerning clients expect proven credentials. Since 1987, the Minnesota State Bar Association has been approved as an independent professional organization for certifying lawyers as legal specialists.

Through testing, peer review from lawyers and judges, and documenting experience, the MSBA Legal Specialist Certification Program measures a lawyer's expertise in a specialty area. Although many lawyers limit their practice areas, only lawyers who successfully complete the application process and continue to meet all program standards may call themselves MSBA Certified Legal Specialists.

The Certified Legal Specialist designation is one way for the public to identify those attorneys who have demonstrated proficiency in their specialty area and to find an attorney whose qualifications match their legal needs.

The goal of MSBA Certification Legal Specialist programs is to assist the public by identifying attorneys who meet objective specialty area standards for reliable knowledge and experience.


A lawyer who is a Certified Legal Specialist has been recognized as having an enhanced level of skill and expertise, as well as substantial involvement in an established legal specialty.

In order to be a MSBA Certified Legal Specialist they must:

  • provide evidence of substantial involvement in the specialty area and appropriate references from judges and other lawyers
  • pass a written examination in the substantive and procedural law in the specialty area
  • be admitted to practice and be in good standing in Minnesota
  • demonstrate that they have completed at least 30 hours of continuing legal education courses in the specialty area in the past three years

The specialty field of Civil Trial Law is the practice of law dealing with the representation of parties before federal and state courts in non-criminal matters.

The specialty field of Real Property Law is the practice of law in Minnesota dealing with matters relating to real property transactions including but not limited to, real estate conveyances, title searches, leases, condominiums, mortgages, and other liens, property taxes, real estate development, real estate financing, and determination of property rights, all with consideration to related fields of law.

The specialty field of Criminal Law is the practice of law dealing with the prosecution of crimes in state and federal trial courts.

The specialty field of Labor and Employment Law is the practice of law dealing with relationships among employers, employees, and labor organizations, except workers’ compensation. It includes all aspects of labor relations and employment law, both public and private, employment-related statutes, employment-related torts and contracts, and employment discrimination. This definition includes all forms of labor and employment litigation, advice, counseling, negotiations, arbitration, mediation, and other forms of alternative dispute resolution before all tribunals.

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