First things first. At Fiandach and Fiandach, we wholeheartedly agree with New York State DR 2-105 that certification is not a requirement for the practice of law in the State of New York and does not necessarily indicate greater competence than other attorneys experienced in this field of law. For the text of this rule, click here. Further, the National College for DUI Defense is a private organization and is not affiliated with any governmental authority. It is a professional, non-profit corporation dedicated to the improvement of the criminal defense bar and to the dissemination of information to the public about DUI Defense Law as a specialty area of law practice.
That having been said, the right to use the word "specialized," does not come easy. While any lawyer fresh out of law school can say a practice "concentrates" or is "limited" to DWI or any other field, to use the word "specialized," the lawyer must have received specialization certification from an agency or organization that has met rigid tests imposed by the American Bar Association. This is for good reason. According to the American Bar Association "[a] lawyer who is a certified specialist has been recognized by an independent professional certifying organization as having an enhanced level of skill and expertise, as well as substantial involvement in an established legal specialty. These organizations require a lawyer to demonstrate special training, experience and knowledge to insure that the lawyer's recognition as a certified specialist is meaningful and reliable."
The National College for DUI Defense is the only ABA approved DUI (DWI) certification program. According to the National College for DUI Defense, "the purpose of the program is to identify and acknowledge lawyers who possess an enhanced level of skill and expertise in this field, and to develop and improve the profession's competence in this specialty area."
To be certified under the rigorous National College program, an attorney must complete 36 hours of College approved CLE (Continuing Legal Education) in the field of DWI defense. The applicant must then survive the application process including submission of reference forms from judges and lawyers intimately familiar with the applicant's abilities. The applicant must then demonstrate, in writing, actual trial experience including at least 60 matters. The applicant must then submit a memorandum of law limited to five pages, prepared by the applicant, which addresses a DUI issue as directed by the Certification Committee. The applicant must then pass a written examination as well as an oral examination based upon the applicant's memorandum of law.
We invite you to review further information regarding specialization at the following websites: