Applause was in the air this afternoon as the Texas Board of Legal Specialization recognized 209 attorneys and 34 paralegals as certified in their respective specialty areas during an induction ceremony at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin. To earn the distinction, applicants passed a comprehensive exam and met additional requirements including CLE courses and reference checks.

“It’s really a recognition by peers of someone’s capability in an area of law,” said Gary McNeil, TBLS executive director.

During the event, Buck Files, a past president of the State Bar of Texas who has been certified in criminal law since 1975, addressed the inductees and shared insight from his years of legal practice. TBLS also recognized David Schulman, certified in criminal law since 1991 and criminal appellate law since 2011, with the Tom Garner Distinguished Service Award. Texas Supreme Court Justice Phil Johnson administered an oath to the inductees.

The Texas Board of Legal Specialization was established by the State Bar of Texas and operates under the continuing jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Texas.

McNeil noted that the growth of the organization—which started in 1974 as a pilot program with three areas of expertise—reflects the increase of specialized law over time. “It used to be [people] could do a general practice; now most people really concentrate a practice in one or two specialty areas.”

TBLS offers certification in 21 areas for lawyers and seven areas for paralegals. Attorneys interested in becoming certified by the Texas Board of Legal Certification should go to Applications for the 2015 exam, which will take place in October, are available through March 31.