Why Every Young Bankruptcy Lawyer Should Strive for Board Certification


In today’s competitive legal market, it is important to stand out from the crowd. Everywhere you turn, young lawyers are looking for skills that make them more marketable to clients and employers. It seems that there are more and more specializations within specializations. Even though you might be a bankruptcy attorney, are you a business or consumer bankruptcy attorney? If you are business bankruptcy attorney, do you represent debtors, banks or unsecured creditors’ committees? I’m sure you can see where this is going!

Becoming board certified by The American Board of Certification (ABC) may be just the thing for which motivated young lawyers are looking. The ABC has certified nearly 1,000 lawyers nationwide in business bankruptcy, consumer bankruptcy and creditors’ rights. Every young lawyer should strive to be one of the board-certified attorneys in his or her given subspecialty.

Even going through the process of becoming board certified is an excellent way to separate from the rest of field. The process involves rigorous testing and continuing legal education requirements, recommendations from fellow practitioners and at least a five-year focus on the particular area of certification. For young lawyers, going through the process helps you mature into a confident and competent bankruptcy lawyer. Along the way, you will enhance your understanding of the Bankruptcy Code and process, and interact with other practitioners.

There is simply no better way to develop into the kind of lawyer that firms want to employ and clients want to hire. All three board certification programs are accredited by the American Bar Association and many individual states. Congress recognized the importance of board certification by listing it as one of the factors in determining the amount of reasonable compensation to be awarded to chapter 11 professionals under § 330(a) (3) of the Bankruptcy Code. Especially when it comes to young lawyers, being able to claim board certification is a good way to let the bankruptcy court, clients and opposing counsel know that they are dealing with a well-trained individual-but the benefits don’t end at certification.

Once you become board-certified, you join a fraternity of other competent and like-minded practitioners who value continuing education, professionalism and dedication to personal improvement in the bankruptcy field. Once certified, there are many ways to get involved and network with other lawyers. The ABC has lots of interesting committees, including a new task force exploring best practices to use social media in marketing and continuing education. Young lawyers: Get involved and become board-certified!

Kirk Burkley, Esq.
Co-Managing Partner, Bernstein-Burkley, P.C.
Chair, ABC Marketing Committee

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