The following is taken verbatim from a pamphlet written by The Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization and Education:
“Maybe you have never needed the services of an attorney before; but now you do. Obviously, you want an attorney who can handle your particular legal situation, and who has experience and expertise in the area of law relating to your legal needs.
To assist you in finding such a lawyer, the Supreme Court of Florida directed The Florida Bar to offer a “Board Certification” program for Florida lawyers. The program is designed to help the public make an informed decision when seeking and selecting a lawyer.
While all lawyers are allowed to advertise, only certified attorneys are allowed to identify themselves as “Florida Bar Board Certified” or as a “specialist.” Certification is the highest level of recognition by The Florida Bar of the competency and experience of attorneys in the areas of law approved for certification by the Supreme Court of Florida.
A lawyer who is a member in good standing of The Florida Bar and who meets the standards prescribed by the state’s Supreme Court, may become a “Board Certified Admiralty and Maritime Lawyer.”
Every lawyer certified in admiralty and maritime law has practiced law on a full-time basis for at least five years. If the lawyer has an LL.M. degree in admiralty law, ocean law, maritime law or related field approved by The Florida Bar, then such degree can substitute for one year of practice. Each certified lawyer has had substantial involvement – 35 percent or more – in the practice of admiralty and maritime law during the five years immediately preceding application. Each certified lawyer has passed peer review, has completed 50 hours of continuing legal education within three years immediately preceding application and has passed a written examination demonstrating knowledge, skills and proficiency in the field of admiralty and maritime law to justify the representation of special competence.
Certified lawyers in admiralty and maritime law deal with the corpus of rules, concepts and legal practice governing vessels, the shipping industry, the carrying of goods and passengers by water as well as related maritime concepts. Admiralty and maritime law includes the substantive law and procedural rules associated with the general maritime law of the United States, admiralty jurisdiction and procedure; personal injury and wrongful death of seamen and passengers aboard vessels; compensation for injury and wrongful death of longshoremen and harbor workers; government regulations of marine safety and maritime industry; carriage of goods; charter parties, salvage, general average, collision, marine insurance, maritime liens, limitation of liability, marine pollution and environmental law, maritime arbitration, recreational vessels, vessel finance and documentation, international aspects of maritime practice, and other related areas of law.
Board certification is valid for five years, during which time the attorney must continue to practice law and attend Florida Bar-approved continuing legal education courses. To be re-certified, requirements similar to those for initial certification must be met. Not all qualified lawyers are certified, but those who are board certified have taken the extra step to have their competence and experience recognized.
Admiralty and Maritime Law Certification was approved by the Supreme Court of Florida in 1995.”