Prior to the decision of a federal judge last month, only those attorneys who were Board Certified by the Florida Bar, such as Shaina Thorpe, could claim they were "experts" or "specialists" on their websites. But the District Court held that such restrictions on attorneys' rights to call themselves "experts" or "specialists" violated the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. But what does this decision mean for Florida citizens?
Before this decision was issued, people seeking an attorney could rely on the fact that an attorney who called himself or herself an expert had a certain degree of specialized knowledge and experience in his or her chosen field. There were standards put in place by the Florida Bar that made it possible for citizens to determine that an "expert" had been vetted by the Bar, and wasn't just calling him or herself an expert based on his or her own belief. But with the District Court's decision in place, people seeking attorney assistance should be cautious in selecting an attorney who is best suited to meet their legal needs.
Now that attorneys can deem themselves "experts" or "specialists" on their websites without being Board Certified, many attorneys are likely to start using those terms to gain additional credibility. We are not saying that attorneys who are not Board Certified are unable to provide excellent legal services. Rather, we at Thorpe & Thorpe, P.A. are encouraging members of the public to think carefully about their choice of an attorney. Without the limitation on the use of "expert" or "specialist," it is more important than ever for individuals to research attorneys they are considering using. LinkedIn profiles, Avvo profiles, AV ratings, professional recognitions, firm websites, and testimonials can provide good information to those considering hiring an attorney.
Attorney Shaina Thorpe has been Board Certified by the Florida Bar since 2014 in the area of Labor and Employment Law. As such, she has met the high standard set by the Florida Bar to gain the designation of Board Certification, including peer review, proof of experience, additional legal education in the field, and passage of a thorough exam. She is proud to say she is an expert in the field--before it was cool.