Indiana Commission for Continuing Legal Education
30 S. Meridian St. Suite 950
Indianapolis, IN 46204
This document establishes standards by which the Indiana Commission for Continuing Legal Education ("Commission") will accredit specialty certification programs for lawyers in particular fields of law. The Standards require that an accredited organization through its attorney specialization plan demonstrate that its plan will accomplish the purposes of Indiana Admission and Discipline Rule 30 Sec. 1.
The Standards are designed to enable the Commission to evaluate thoroughly the objectives, standards and procedures of Applicants. Not withstanding anything to the contrary, for compelling reasons consistent with the purpose of these Standards, the Commission may suspend or alter any part of these Standards in particular matters.
The authority to revise and amend these requirements, to grant and withdraw accreditation, and to grant and withdraw re-accreditation is vested in the Commission, subject to approval by the Indiana Supreme Court.
In order to obtain accreditation by the Commission for a specialty certification program, an Applicant must demonstrate that the program operates in accordance with the following standards:
Purpose of Organization. The Applicant must demonstrate that one of its primary purposes is the identification of lawyers who have a demonstrated proficiency in the area of law or practice for which specialist certification is being issued. If the identification of lawyers for which specialist certification is being sought is not the primary purpose of the Applicant, but is simply one of the primary purposes, the Applicant must also show that its certification program has as a goal the development and improvement of the professional competence of lawyers in the area of law or practice for which specialist certification is being sought.
Organizational Prerequisites. Any program designed to certify lawyers as specialists has a continuing responsibility to those it certifies to maintain the integrity and the value of the specialty designation.
The primary criteria which will be used in determining whether this responsibility has been met are:
Decision Makers. A majority of the body within an Applicant organization reviewing applicants for certification of lawyers as specialists in a particular area of law shall consist of lawyers who, in the judgment of the Commission, are experts in the field of certification. For the purpose of this criterion, a person may be deemed to be an expert in the field of certification if he or she is:
Uniform Applicability of Certification Requirements and Non-Discrimination. The Applicant's documents and records submitted in conjunction with its application for accreditation will be examined to ensure that the requirements for granting certification are clear and easily applied.
Definition and Number of Specialties. An Applicant shall specifically define the specialty area or areas in which it proposes to certify lawyers as specialists.
Certification Requirements. The following shall be required by the Applicant for certification of lawyers as specialists.
A. Evidence of Substantial Involvement in the Practice Area. The Applicant must require that a lawyer seeking certification make a satisfactory showing of experience through substantial involvement in the specialty area. Substantial involvement generally includes the type and number of cases or matters handled and the amount of time spent practicing in the specialty area. In order to meet the Standard, the Applicant's certification criteria must require that the time spent practicing the specialty be at least twenty-five percent (25%) of the total practice of a lawyer engaged in a normal full-time practice throughout the three-year period immediately preceding the lawyer's application.
B. Peer Review. The Applicant must require that a lawyer seeking certification submit the names of at least five (5) references who are attorneys, or judges where appropriate, who are knowledgeable regarding the practice area and are familiar with the competence of the lawyer.
C. Written Examination. The Applicant must require that a lawyer seeking certification pass a written examination of suitable length and complexity. The examination must test the knowledge and skills of the substantive and procedural law in the specialty area and shall include professional responsibility and ethics as it relates to the particular specialty. The Commission may appoint a panel to review the substantive content of the examination and the procedures for administering the examination. The following factors will be used to judge the suitability of the examination used by the Applicant:
D. Educational Experience. The Applicant must require that a lawyer seeking certification has completed a minimum of thirty-six (36) hours of participation in educational activities in the specialty area in the three (3) year period preceding the lawyer's application for certification.
1. The Applicant may allow a lawyer seeking certification to meet this requirement through any of the following means, including a combination of them:
a. attending programs of continuing legal education approved by this Commission;
b. teaching courses or seminars in the specialty area approved by this Commission;
c. participating as panelist, speaker or workshop leader at educational or professional conferences covering the specialty area approved by this Commission; or
d. writing published books or articles concerning the specialty area.
2. The Applicant should require a lawyer seeking certification to provide evidence showing that the programs, courses, seminars, conferences and publications listed above contain sufficient intellectual and practical content so as to increase a lawyer's knowledge and ability in the specialty area.
E. Good Standing. A lawyer seeking certification must be duly admitted to the bar of this state, in active status, and in good standing, throughout the period for which the certification is granted.
F. Lawyer Compliance. A lawyer certified by an ICO approved by the Commission must be in full compliance with Indiana Admission and Discipline Rule 30, the Rules and Policies of the ICO, and the Rules and Policies of the Commission.
G. Supporting Documents. The application for accreditation must be accompanied by all of the following supporting documents:
1. the Applicant's governing documents, including articles of incorporation, bylaws, and resolutions of the governing bodies of the Applicant or any parent organization, which resolutions relate to the standards, procedures, guidelines or practices of t he Applicant's certification program;
2. financial information about the Applicant and any supporting parent organization as specified on forms provided by the Commission;
3. biographical summaries of members of the governing board, senior staff and members of advisory panels, including specific information concerning the degree of involvement in the specialty area of persons who review and pass upon applications for certification;
4. materials furnished to lawyers seeking certification, application forms, booklets or pamphlets describing the certification program, peer reference forms, rules and procedures and evaluation guides;
5. copies of examinations given in the past two (2) years, or in the case of new organizations, copies of proposed examinations (in those cases where an organization accepts examination by another entity, copies of such examinations), with evidence of t heir validity and reliability, such as written examination procedures, including a description of how examination are developed, conducted and reviewed; a description of the grading standards used; and the names of persons responsible for determining pass /fail standards. Actual or proposed written examinations are to be made available on a confidential basis for review by a person designated by the Commission, with the understanding that the Applicant, at its option, may rule the person who reviews the examination ineligible for certification by the Applicant for a period of three (3) years from the time of such designation;
6. the definition of the specialty or specialties in which the Applicant certifies specialists; and
7. such other materials or information deemed necessary by the accreditation review panel or the Commission.
Impartial Review. The Applicant must provide evidence that it maintains and publishes a policy providing an appeal procedure for a lawyer seeking certification to challenge the decision of the persons who review and pass upon applications for certification. The policy must provide a lawyer seeking certification the opportunity to present his or her case to an impartial decision maker in the event of denial of eligibility or denial of certification. Impartial decision-makers may include persons associated with the Applicant.
Requirements for Re-Certification.
Revocation of Certification. The Applicant must maintain a procedure for revocation of certification, including a requirement that a certified lawyer report his or her disbarment or suspension from the practice of law in any jurisdiction to the Applicant.
Initial accreditation by the Commission of any Applicant shall be granted for five years.
To retain Commission accreditation, a certifying organization shall be required to apply for re-accreditation during the period between six and twelve months prior to the end of the fifth year of its initial accreditation period and every five years thereafter. The organization shall be granted re-accreditation upon showing of continued compliance with these Standards.
An ICO shall be responsible for reporting in writing to the Commission as follows:
Upon accreditation, an ICO may state that it is accredited by the Commission to certify lawyers in the specialty area(s) under the following conditions:
This announcement must indicate the specialty areas in which accreditation has been granted by the Commission.
An ICO shall not permit certified lawyers to state or imply that they are certified or accredited by the Commission. An ICO shall actively enforce this prohibition.
Grounds for Revocation of Accreditation. The accreditation of an Accredited Organization shall be revoked if the organization has ceased to exist, or has ceased to operate its certification program in compliance with the Standards.
Hearing. The Commission, on its own or acting upon a Complaint from a third party, may determine that reasonable grounds exist for consideration of revocation of accreditation. In such case, the Commission will schedule the matter for deliberation at one of the commission's regularly scheduled business meetings. The Accredited Organization will be provided prompt written notice of the meeting and an opportunity to be heard at the meeting.
Decision. If the Commission determines that the Accredited Organization has ceased to exist, or has ceased to operate its certification program in compliance with the Standards, the it will revoke the accreditation.
New Application for Accreditation. An ICO whose accreditation has been revoked may re-apply, at a subsequent time, for accreditation without prejudice. However, the Commission may consider the reasons accreditation was revoked to determine whether the problem requiring revocation is corrected.
Voluntary Withdrawal from Accredited Status. An Accredited Organization may request that its accreditation by the Commission be withdrawn by providing written notice to the chair of the Commission at the offices in Indianapolis.
Except for the circumstances below, the files, records and documents submitted by an Applicant as part of the accreditation process will be deemed public information.
An Applicant may request that distribution of its materials by the Commission or any person acting as a panel member or advisor at the request of the Commission be limited to those persons who need the information to fulfill obligations specified in these Rules. In such cases, the Commission will take reasonable steps to honor such a request, but can not assume responsibility for disclosure due to circumstances beyond its immediate control.
Except as a part of this Commission's Administration of Rule 30, actual or proposed written examinations submitted will be kept confidential.
An Applicant or an ICO that does not comply with these requirements may be denied accreditation or re-accreditation or may have its accreditation revoked.
11.01 ICOs and Applicants agree to hold and save the Commission members, its members of any specialization related advisory committees, contractors, volunteers, officers, agents and employees harmless from liability of any kind, including costs and expenses, for any suit or damages sustained by any person or property by virtue of an ICO's or Applicant's activities relating to accreditation by the Commission or for any consequences of an ICO’s or Applicant’s involvement in seeking or sustaining accreditation of its specialty program(s), by virtue of any act or omission by the Commission members, its members of any specialization related advisory committees, officers, contractors, agents, employees and volunteers.
12.01 Consistent with these Standards, the Commission shall have the authority to:
These Standards become effective upon their adoption by the Commission and the approval of the Supreme Court of Indiana;
The power to approve an amendment to these Standards is vested in the Commission subject to approval of the Supreme Court of Indiana.