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Kathleen S. Glancy, a Board Certified Specialist in workers’ compensation law, recently talked with Denise Mullen, assistant director of specialization about the impact specialization has had on her career. Glancy received her undergraduate degree from the University of California at Irvine in 1977, and her law degree from the University of Santa Clara School of Law in 1980. Her practice has offices located in Wilmington and Williamston, NC. Here are a few of her comments.

Q: Why did you pursue certification?

I was asked to serve on the original workers’ compensation specialty committee that wrote the standards and designed the examination. Looking back, I would say that I didn’t have to pursue certification, it pursued me.

Q: How did your committee draft that initial examination?

We had many conversations about format and how to draft an examination that would be a solid indication of knowledge and application of skills. We constantly kept in mind that the main goal in certification is to help the consumer select the best representation. In the end, we each drafted a large number of questions and then cut them down to an appropriate number for a six-hour exam. We also gave thought to grading and tried to create an exam that could be graded objectively.

Q: Was the certification process valuable to you in any way?

Drafting the questions was a good application of my knowledge. I found it very useful to look at real cases for practical questions. Creating the exam was a lot of work for all of us.

Q: Has certification been helpful to your practice? In what ways?

It has been nice to have the board certified designation on my materials. As a workers’ compensation attorney, I work with a lot of doctors and they do pay attention to board certifications. I think it takes the public longer to achieve such a level of understanding about what we do.

Q: What do your clients say about your certification?

Some may not initially know, although I do have it on my business cards, letterhead, etc. Honestly, it seems that my clients are more concerned with how quickly I return their phone calls and if I can answer their questions.

Q: What are your best referral sources?

Satisfied clients are my best referral source.

Q: How does your certification benefit your clients?

I hope that my clients obtain an indirect benefit because my certification demonstrates competence to the workers’ compensation world (the defense bar, adjusters, and the Industrial Commission). I also think it puts them at ease that they have selected a qualified attorney.

Q: Are there any hot topics in your specialty area right now?

CMS (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) approval of Medicare set-aside allocations in worker’s compensation settlements is an ongoing hot topic. The process is time consuming, cumbersome, and without clear guidelines. Many workers’ compensation attorneys feel that the CMS policy memos exceed the regulatory authority. There are many CLE courses on this topic these days.

Certified specialists need to be up on these issues and the laws that play a role in workers’ compensation settlements.

Q: How do you stay current in your field?

I attend and present at numerous CLE courses. I stay active in several professional associations including the Workers’ Compensation section of the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers (NCATL), Workplace Injury Litigation Group (WILG), and the National Association of Social Security Claims Representatives (NOSSCR).

Q: Is certification important in your practice area?

Absolutely. There was a lot of debate in the beginning about creating a workers’ compensation specialty area, but the decision to move forward was clearly the right one. Consumers are better served since the specialty area was designated, and I hope to see more lawyers pursuing the certification in workers’ compensation law.

Q: Is certification important in your region?

Workers’ compensation law is a very unique legal practice area. Southeastern North Carolina is predominantly rural with the exception of Wilmington, New Hanover County. Practitioners have to devote a substantial portion of their daily practice to attain the required hours and experience to sit for the examination. It is likely more difficult for lawyers in rural areas to meet those requirements.

Q: How do you see the future of specialization?

I think we’ll see more and more specialists and a growing number of specialty areas as well.

Q: In what other areas would you like to see certification offered?

Social Security/Disability law seems like a good fit for the program.

Q: What would you say to encourage other lawyers to pursue certification?

It is a good test to measure your expertise in an area of the law. Certification allows a lawyer to hold him/herself out as someone who focuses on specific areas of the law. It is very important to do all that we can to ensure that we provide services that are commensurate with the level of difficulty in our practice areas. Certification provides an avenue to achieve that higher level of service.