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Please review the general requirements for certification and continued certification, as well as the standards for Criminal Law.



Licensed and in good standing to practice law in North Carolina as of the date of application.


During the five years preceding application:

Average of at least 500 hours a year.

Minimum of 400 hours for any one year.

Practice equivalents may be accepted for the following:

  • service as a law professor for one year
  • service as a federal, state or tribal court judge for one year.

Additional information required regarding: (A) representation during the applicant's entire legal career in criminal trials concluded by jury verdict; (B) representation as principal counsel of record in federal felony cases or state felony cases (Class G or higher) (C) court appearances in other substantive criminal proceedings in criminal courts of any jurisdiction; and (D) representation in appeals of decisions to the North Carolina Court of Appeals, the North Carolina Supreme Court, or any federal appellate court.


During the three years preceding application:

At least 40 hours of accredited CLE in criminal law, which must include the following:

  1. at least 34 hours in skills pertaining to criminal law, such as evidence, substantive criminal law, criminal procedure, criminal trial advocacy, and criminal trial tactics;
  2. at least 6 hours in the area of ethics and criminal law.


Must provide the names of ten lawyers or judges who practice in the field of criminal law and are familiar with the competence and qualification of the applicant in criminal law.

Must also provide a list of opposing counsel and judges in eight recent cases tried to verdict or entry of order.

All references must be licensed and in good standing to practice law.

A reference may not be related by blood or marriage to the applicant nor may the reference be a colleague at the applicant’s place of employment at the time of the application.


Four 90-minute sessions (six hours long).

Exam sessions begin around 8:15 am and finish prior to 5 pm.

Includes multiple-choice, short answer, and short essay questions.

Exam administered at the NC State Bar building or through a remote proctoring option.