What is Specialist Accreditation?
Specialist Accreditation is a structured peer assessment program which enable practitioners to gain recognition as an expert in their chosen area of practice. Solicitors who fulfil the requirements of the Program are entitled to use, after their name, the words ‘Accredited Specialist’ in the nominated area of practice.
Specialist Accreditation helps the general public and profession identify solicitors who have demonstrated expertise in a particular area of law.
The Specialist Accreditation Program aims to:
- Provide the profession and the public with a reliable means of identifying practitioners with proven expertise in their chosen area of practice;
- Contribute to and encourage the continued development and improvement of the standards, quality and delivery of legal services;
- Promote the advancement of legal education, knowledge and skills; and
- Provide practitioners with the opportunity to demonstrate their expertise in their chosen area of practice and to have this recognised.
Why become an Accredited Specialist?
Gaining Accreditation is a significant achievement which offers practitioners a recognised means of differentiation and demonstrated expertise and gives them the opportunity to ‘stand out from the crowd’.
In an increasingly complex and competitive market, the expertise and professionalism which forms the cornerstone of Specialist Accreditation remains an easily identifiable choice for consumers of legal services.
Accreditation provides practitioners with the opportunity to:
- Promote and highlight expert legal knowledge, skills and services for the public and the profession
- Build new and strengthen existing relationships with their peers
- Support continued learning and development with access to CPD for Accredited Specialists
- Maintain standards and contribute to the future of the profession by joining a Specialist Accreditation advisory committee
What are the eligibility criteria?
Practitioners applying for Specialist Accreditation must satisfy the following criteria:
- Hold a current solicitor’s practising certificate;
- Current solicitor member of the Law Society of NSW or full solicitor member of an equivalent body in an Australian state or territory;
- Engaged in the practice of law (1) on a full time basis for at least 5 years (2) ;
- In each of the three years immediately preceding this application, have been engaged in the area of practice/ law in which accreditation is sought; and
- In the three years preceding this application, have practised in the area for not less than 25% of full time practice.
In relation to any period during which the practitioner has worked part-time in the 3 years preceding this application, the practitioner has undertaken work in this area not less than the equivalent of 25% of full time practice (for example: not less than 2.5 days per fortnight working exclusively in the area).
Note: The definition of a solicitor can be found in s.6 of the Legal Profession Uniform Law (NSW).
- “Practice of law” does not include pre-admission experience.
“Practice of law” applies to experience in Australian jurisdictions.
- “Years” run from the date of commencement of practice to 30 June in the year of application. This is not calculated from the date of admission.
Specialist Accreditation Board
The Council of the Law Society of NSW established the Specialist Accreditation Board to which it delegates responsibility for the Specialist Accreditation Program. The Specialist Accreditation Board is comprised of Accredited Specialists, Law Society Councillors and Law Society Solicitor members, who collectively have an appropriate mix of skills and expertise to ensure the integrity of the Program.
Current Specialist Accreditation Board members are:
|Jacqueline Dawson (Chair)
Advisory Committees are established for each area of practice within the Specialist Accreditation Program. These committees plan and develop the program assessments and report to the Board regarding results, processes, and techniques.
Appointments of members to Advisory Committees are determined through an open nomination and appointment process, which takes place towards the end of each calendar year. All members should be Accredited Specialists in the relevant area of practice, apart from academic members. Relevant experience in the area of Accreditation and knowledge and experience of educational assessment processes should be demonstrated.