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Creating a New Legal Specialization

Creating a Legal Specialization in New Mexico requires forming a Legal Specialization Committee, drafting the specialty standards, and developing and administering an exam.  A lawyer or organization seeking recognition of a new specialty must first submit a written application to the Commission proposing the creation of the specialty.

The specialty application includes:

i.  Signatures of 50 New Mexico licensed lawyers recommending the creation of the proposed specialty area. (Lawyers do not have to qualify for or be interested in being certified in the practice area).

ii.  Signatures of 15 lawyers who are interested in seeking certification in the proposed specialty area.

           iii.  Specify how you will meet the exam requirement

           iv.  Complete Specialist Application

            v.  Submit package to the LS Commission

          vi.  A statement regarding how the exam requirement will be met.

If the application to create the specialization is approved by the Commission, the Commission will appoint the initial specialty committee. Committee appointments shall be conducted through an application process.

Applicants to serve on the initial specialty committee must meet requirements for being certified as a specialist within the specialty area except for having taken the exam.  Applicants for subsequent specialty committee positions must be specialists in the area.  Applicants for appointment to the committee shall follow the application process for specialist certification defined in these Policies.

After appointment, the initial specialty committee will, under the direction of the Commission, draft the specialty standards, complete examination development training, draft the examination specifications, and draft and administer the initial exam.

Each legal specialty committee may create a written examination of suitable length and complexity to evaluate an applicant’s knowledge of the substantive and procedural law in the specialty area. The exam must also test professional responsibility and ethics as related to the specialty area(LS Policies and Procedures Section III(D)(iii))

Please note: This path selection requires an approximate 80-hour time commitment by attorneys who are subject matter experts in the specialty area, willing to work with testing specialists to create a written examination, as well as a substantial financial commitment by the specialty group to pay for the test writing process.  

Alternatively, the specialty committee may partner with a national or other state organization that has been approved by the Commission, which offers a specialty in the specialty area and requires an examination. (LS Policies and Procedures Section III(B))

If the Committee chooses to create an exam, they will collaborate directly with a psychometrician who determines the appropriate mix of essay, true-false, and multiple-choice questions, and will also consult with the committee regarding examination validity and reliability, as well as the pass rates of the examination.