John B. Stewart, Attorney at Law
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Of the firm Murphy & Manitsas, LLP
Springfield, MA
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To learn more about the significance of certification as a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, see www.nbtanet.org


STANDARDS FOR CERTIFICATION AS CIVIL TRIAL ADVOCATE - NATIONAL BOARD OF TRIAL ADVOCACY (Rev.2/07)

Good Standing and Period of Practice

The applicant shall furnish evidence of his or her good standing in the state of his or her admission, or if admitted in more than one state, in the state of his or her principal practice.

Immediately preceding application, the applicant must have spent five (5) years in the actual practice of Civil and/or Criminal law.

Substantial Involvement

The applicant must make a satisfactory showing of substantial involvement relevant to the particular specialty certification the person is seeking, with at least thirty (30) percent of his or her time spent practicing civil trial litigation, and/or thirty (30) percent of his or her time spent practicing criminal trial litigation, during the three (3) years preceding the filing of the application.

Within the applicant's career, the applicant must make a satisfactory showing of substantial involvement relevant to the particular specialty certification by personal participation in at least forty-five days of trial ( a day of trial is not less than six hours) during which the applicant examined or cross-examined witnesses, delivered an opening statement or closing argument or conducted a voir dire jury examination. During the forty-five or more trial days the applicant must personally have:

served as lead counsel in at least five jury cases;

substantially participated in at least five jury cases which have proceeded to verdict;

conducted direct examination of at least twenty-five lay witnesses;

conducted cross-examination of at least twenty-five lay witnesses;

conducted direct examination of at least fifteen expert witnesses;

conducted cross-examination of at least fifteen expert witnesses;

presented at least eight opening statements;

presented at least four closing arguments;

conducted at least five voir dire jury examinations or (in courts which do not permit counsel to conduct voir dire examination) submitted proposed jury questions for the court at least ten times or a combination of examinations and submissions acceptable to the Standards Committee.

The Standards Committee may allow a lesser number of performances in categories (c) through (i) if additional involvement in other categories clearly constitutes sufficient active trial participation to demonstrate an enhanced level of skill and experience.

Within the applicant's career, the applicant shall also have actively participated in one hundred (100) additional contested matters involving the taking of testimony (cases included in your substantial involvement may not be included as part of your contested matters). This may include trials (jury or non-jury); evidentiary hearings or depositions; and motions heard before or after trial. In criminal advocacy, it may include juvenile delinquency hearings. In civil advocacy, it may include arbitration hearings, welfare hearings, and workers compensation matters not tried to a court.

Within the applicant's substantial involvement and contested matters, one of the following four conditions must be met three years prior to application:

substantial trial involvement in ten days of trial with personal participation in the categories listed in Section (B)(2)(a) through (i) or,

active personal participation in 24 litigated matters, either directly handled to conclusion as lead counsel or in a supervisory capacity to lead counsel, or

participation in 36 performances (evidentiary hearings or depositions which either oral argument was made or testimony was taken, or motions heard before or after trial), or

a combination of trial days, participation in litigated matters or performances which demonstrates substantial involvement in the specialty equivalent to one of the three subsections above as approved by the Standards Committee.

Educational Experience

The applicant must demonstrate substantial participation in continuing legal education and the development of the law with respect to the specialty, in the three year period immediately preceding application either:

By attendance and/or electronic participation in not less than forty-five hours in programs of continuing legal education in the specialty or ethics, approved by the Standards Committee, or

By equivalent participation through, but not limited to, the following means, approved by the Standards Committee:

Teaching courses or seminars in trial law or ethics;

Participation as panelist, speaker, or workshop leader, at educational or professional conferences;

Authorship of books, or of articles published in professional journals, on trial law;

By combination of the three subsections above.

Peer Review

The applicant shall submit with application the names of ten to twelve references, not present partners, associates, or relatives of the applicant. These references shall be substantially involved in the relevant field of trial law, and familiar with the applicant's practice in that field. References satisfactory to the NBTA must be received from at least three judges before whom the applicant has tried a matter in the relevant field, not more than three years before application; and at least three shall be lawyers with whom, or against whom, the applicant has tried a matter in that field within three years of application.

NBTA will solicit confidential statements from all persons listed as references and may solicit confidential statements of reference from other persons, familiar with the applicant's practice, not specifically named by the applicant. All reference statements received will be reviewed by the NBTA to assess whether the applicant has demonstrated an enhanced level of skill and expertise in the practice area, integrity and consideration for the interests of clients.

Examination
The applicant must pass a written examination to test his or her proficiency, knowledge, and experience in civil and/or criminal trial law, so that the applicant may justify his or her representation of specialization to the public.

Legal Writing Document
The applicant shall submit a copy of a legal writing document, no more than three (3) years before the date of application which he or she has prepared, but not necessarily published. This will be a substantial document in the area for which the applicant seeks certification, containing concise and accurate writing, stating facts (either actual or hypothetical), stating applicable law, analysis of how the law applies to the facts, written in an appropriately argumentative manner and well constructed (i.e. organized, grammatical, demonstrative of good syntax and usage) . Acceptable documents include, but are not limited to: briefs (trial or appellate), motions for summary judgment, bar journal, law review and legal magazine articles, motions in limine, etc.. The quality of the legal document will be evaluated on those criteria and will determine whether the applicant is qualified for certification.

Disclosure of Conduct

In order to assist the evaluation of whether the applicant possesses an enhanced level of skill and expertise in trial advocacy and has demonstrated integrity and dedication to the interest of clients, the applicant shall, to the extent known, disclose to the National Board of Trial Advocacy as soon as permitted by law:

The filing of any criminal charges against the applicant together with all details called for by the Disclosure of Conduct Form;

The filing or submission of any allegation of unethical or inappropriate professional conduct with any court, grievance committee or disciplinary board or body together with all details called for by the Disclosure of Conduct Form.

The assertion of any claim of professional negligence or professional liability, whether or not suit has been filed, which is based in any part on alleged acts or omissions of the applicant or member or on the acts or omissions of any other attorney over whom the applicant or member had any responsibility together with all details called for by the Disclosure of Conduct Form.

The National Board of Trial Advocacy shall determine, in accordance with its standards and procedures whether the conduct is such that certification should be granted, denied, suspended or revoked, or whether action should be deferred pending receipt of additional information. The NBTA will take into consideration any findings made by other bodies concerning such conduct, but is not bound by any such findings and will make its own independent assessment concerning how such conduct bears on whether an attorney is qualified to obtain or maintain certification.

The failure of an applicant to disclose such conduct is a material misrepresentation and may be cause for rejecting an application or refusing to grant certification, or for suspending or revoking a certificate. The applicant shall have a continuing duty to disclose such matters to the board.


 
 
 
John B. Stewart, Attorney at Law, Of the firm Murphy & Manitsas, LLP
20 Maple Street, Suite 301, Springfield, MA 01103 • Ph (413) 206-9134 • Fax (413) 733-4403