Specialization Ain't Just for Doctors Anymore
Along with my friend from Arizona, Jonathan Goebel, I am one of the two newest Board-Certified DUI Specialists in the country. Why should you consider taking my spot and being the newest yourself? You shouldn’t! Unless, of course, you care about obtaining the upmost professional respect possible for DUI trial lawyers like ourselves.
I learned about the possibility of DUI Board Certification at my first NCDD seminar (MSE in Dallas in 2008). I immediately knew it was something that I wanted to achieve. I also knew that it would take time. I had to learn as much about DWI law and science as possible. So I did. I spent the next 8 years doing that, and along the way, I kind of forgot about Board Certification. That is mostly because I practice in a state where 98% of cases result in bench trials. At some point, I lost hope that I would even qualify to sit for the exam. I took another look at the qualifications, and I realized that any lawyer that TRIES DWI cases on a regular basis should qualify to sit for the exam.
So I qualified to sit. What do I do now? Study. If you’ve been a regular attendee at NCDD seminars and educational events for a number of years, you’re already well on your way knowledge-wise. However, preparation is still key. NCDD provides you with a list of suggested reading material for the test. Me, personally, though? I (re)read all of the suggested studies. But I focused most on reading, and re-reading, two books: 1) Garriott’s Medicolegal Aspects of Alcohol and 2) Arkansas DWI Defense: The Law and Practice (a book written by former Dean Jim Nesci and my good friend and DUI Shaman, John Collins). Then, I flew to the Winter Session (held in Tucson in 2017) and spent a day taking the exam. Just like after the bar exam, I spent a month afterwards feeling like I failed it. Until a phone call informed me otherwise.
Can you be a fabulous, successful, and well-respected DUI trial lawyer without being board certified? Absolutely! I like to think that I was something close to that before I obtained mine. So what’s different now? The difference is the respect I receive from those who maybe don’t know me (or of me) very well, many of whom (even in my small state of Arkansas) are judges, lawyers, and prospective clients. Whether you try DWI cases to judges or juries, your reputation and your credibility matter.
As for prospective clients, specifically, Board Certification gives prospective clients extra confidence in their choice of representation. When faced with the threat of losing their career, damaging their reputation, and/or facing jail time, clients want and deserve “the best.”
On top of all that, it’s a huge personal achievement and a great source of confidence. The confidence from knowing that I have reached what I and many others consider to be the pinnacle for a DUI trial lawyer.