John A. Steakely

Attorney John Steakley is a 1996 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law. He began his career as the Special Prosecutor for Drug Crimes for a multi-county, multi-agency drug task force in Tennessee, where he represented the State of Tennessee in thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases in a 5-county judicial district.

Georgia Doesn't Certify 'Specialist' Lawyers, But Should

Georgia Doesn't Certify 'Specialist' Lawyers, But Should

I sometimes hear people talk about lawyers being "specialists" and clients asking for referrals to a "specialist" attorney.  Georgia doesn't certify specialists in law.  In fact, most states don't

None of this stops private organizations from certifying lawyers - for a fee, of course - as "specialists" in whatever area the lawyer wants to be certified.  A 1990 US Supreme Court case, Peel v. Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of Illinois opened the doors for practically any organization to label attorneys as "specialists" and for those attorneys to say so.  Tomorrow you could start the Whatchamacallit National Attorney Certification Board and start certifying lawyers as "specialists" at $25 each.  It may sound good on letterhead and websites, but does it really help potential clients find the right attorney for them?  I don't think so. 

Georgia should get into the game. I'm not suggesting that Georgia limit what any attorney can do. I'm just saying that Georgia should offer its own credentialing system.  My home state of Tennessee certifies specialists as well as regulates private organizations that certify specialists.  Since private organizations can call lawyers "specialists", the State of Georgia needs to get into the business and provide a credible set of standards that potential clients can trust.  Georgia, unfortunately, seems to be an anything-goes state.  So for now, the rule for clients is caveat emptor (buyer beware). 


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