Doreen M. Yaffa is board certified as a specialist in the field of marital and family law by the Florida Board of Legal Specialization & Education. She has maintained this coveted designation since 2001. As the managing partner and founder of Yaffa and Associates, her practice is focused exclusively on divorce and family law matters in Boca Raton and the surrounding areas throughout Palm Beach County, FL.
Certification is the highest level of recognition awarded by the Florida Bar. The Florida Bar’s certification program is consistently recognized as a national leader among other state and national specialty certification programs. Only certified attorneys are permitted to identify themselves as “specialists” or “experts.” These attorneys are permitted to use the letters “B.C.S.” to indicate their status as a Board Certified Specialist.
The Florida Bar explains that board certified lawyers are “evaluated for professionalism and tested for expertise.” For the public, certification provides an objective measure that the public can rely upon when selecting the best attorney for their case. Out of all attorneys in the State of Florida, the Florida bar recently estimated that less than 5,000 are board certified. The Florida Bar has estimated that only 6 percent of all Florida Bar members achieve this important distinction.
When looking for the best divorce or family law attorney for your particular case, it is important to ask, "Are you board certified in marital and family law by the Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization and Education?" Not all qualified family law attorneys are board certified, but those who are have taken the extra step to have their competence and experience independently evaluated.
If you need a family law attorney in Boca Raton or the surrounding areas of Palm Beach County, FL, then call Yaffa & Associates to schedule an appointment.
The Florida Bar has created a series of strict requirements to become Board Certified. The minimum standards for marital and family law certification, listed in Rule 6-6.3, include:
- being a practicing attorney in good standing with the Florida Bar for at least five (5) years;
- being focused on marital and family law so as to demonstrate substantial involvement in that specialty practice area;
- specific task requirements including handling at least 25 contested marital and family law cases in the last five years immediately preceding application with at least seven (7) trials;
- devoting at least 50% of their practice to family and marital law for at least the five-year period immediately preceding application; and
- completion of at least 75 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) courses focused on marital law, family law and related fields.
To become certified, the attorney must also pass a written examination demonstrating knowledge, skills and proficiency in the specialty field in order to justify the designation of special competence. Credit for CLE courses can be approved for educational experiences that the certification committee approves including:
- Teaching a course in marital or family law;
- Authoring a book or article on family law in a professional publication or journal;
- Attending a lecture series sponsored by a qualified educational institution or bar group;
- Participating as a panelist or speaker in a symposium in marital or family law; or
- Completing of a course in marital or family law.
To maintain the designation the attorney must submit to recertification every five years.
The board certification program was approved by the Supreme Court of Florida in 1987. The program is operated by the Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization and Education under the authority of the Supreme Court of Florida. Under Rule 6-6.1, the Standards for Board Certification in Marital and Family Law were last revised on December 12, 208. The purpose of the standards is to identify those lawyers who practice marital and family law and have the special knowledge, skills, and proficiency.
Additionally, the standards help the public identify attorneys with character, ethics, and a reputation for professionalism. The standards also contain provisions to allow judicial officers who regularly preside over marital and family law cases to achieve board certification in marital and family law.
Under Rule 6-6.2(d), the term “trial" is defined as “a matter submitted to and decided by the trier of fact for ultimate resolution by the court's rendition of a judgment or order on at least one (1) issue aside from the dissolution of the parties' marriage. Further, the applicant must have, incident thereto, presided over as a judicial officer, or conducted as an advocate, at least one (1) direct and one (1) cross examination of at least two (2) different witnesses, with the introduction into evidence of at least one (1) exhibit. The applicant must have been responsible for all, or a majority of, the presentation of evidence and/or representation of the client if the matter was handled as an advocate.
Under Rule 6-6.2(e), the term “substantial involvement" is defined as active participation in argument and trial of marital and family law cases, drafting and preparation of marital settlement agreements, attendance at mediation, negotiations of settlement, attendance at hearings, presentation of evidence, taking of testimony, participation in discovery beyond mandatory disclosure, preparation of pleadings, client interviewing, counseling, and investigating. Substantial involvement also includes active participation in the appeal of marital and family law cases.
Under the Certification Committee Policies for continuing legal education accreditation standards, the course or activity must be devoted to matters involving:
- Trial and appellate practice and procedures;
- Enforcement and modification;
- Domestic violence;
- Ethics and bounds of advocacy;
- Parental responsibility and time sharing;
- Maintenance and support;
- Characterization and allocation of property interests;
- Attorney-client relationships; and
- Marital and ante-nuptial settlement agreements.
Selecting an Attorney Specializing in Marital and Family Law Pamphlet - Visit the website of the Florida Bar for information on choosing a marital or family law attorney, including the requirements to obtain specialty certification in this practice area.
Certified Attorneys in Marital and Family Law by the Florida Bar - Find information on Florida's board certified program for marital and family law attorneys including definitions and specialty certification requirements. The Florida Bar defines “marital and family law” as “the practice of law dealing with legal problems arising from the family relationship of husband and wife and parent and child, including civil controversies arising from those relationships.” In addition to actual pretrial and trial process, "marital and family law" includes “evaluating, handling, and resolving such controversies prior to and during the institution of suit and post-judgment proceedings.” The practice of marital and family law in the state of Florida is generally unique in that decisional, statutory, and procedural laws are specific to the state of Florida.
Contact Information:Marital & Family Law Certification Staff Liaison
Directory of Board Certified Specialist Attorneys in the United States - Visit the only nationwide attorney directory that allows the viewer to narrow the search for a board certified attorney by state and specialty area of the law throughout the United States.
Find a Florida Board Certified Specialist Attorney in Marital and Family Law - Use the Lawyer Legion directory to find other board certified attorneys specializing in marital and family trial law in Florida.
If you are looking for a board certified family law attorney in Boca Raton and Palm Beach County, FL, then contact Doreen M. Yaffa. Since 2001, Dorren M. Yaffa has held this important distinction. Call to schedule a consultation to meet directly with the attorney. Find out more about what you need to do right now to protect your family and work toward the most beneficial outcome when resolving your legal issues.
This article was last updated on Wednesday, December 2, 2015.