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The Board of Legal Specialization was created in 1983 by the North Carolina State Bar and began certifying North Carolina lawyers as board certified legal specialists in 1987. The Board was established to create a method by which qualified North Carolina lawyers might become certified as specialists in designated areas of the law. The goals of the legal certification program are twofold.

First, the program assists in the delivery of legal services to the public by identifying to the public those lawyers who have demonstrated special knowledge, skill, and proficiency in a specific field. By identifying these lawyers, members of the public can more closely match their needs with available services.

Second, the legal specialization program seeks to improve the competency of members of the bar by establishing an additional incentive for lawyers to participate in continuing legal education and to meet other requirements of specialization

North Carolina's legal specialization program conforms to the standards established by the American Bar Association. The North Carolina program is one of only 19 state legal certification programs in the United States.

Currently, the board certifies lawyers in 12 areas of law: appellate practice, bankruptcy law, criminal law (including juvenile delinquency), elder law, estate planning and probate law, family law, immigration law, real property law, social security disability law, trademark law, utilities law and workers' compensation law.