Michelle J. Douglass is a Certified Civil Trial Attorney. To qualify for certification an attorney must be at least a five-year member of the NJ Bar, and have completed numerous continuing legal education courses in the three years prior to filing an application. In addition, the attorney must show a substantial involvement in the preparation of litigated matters, and demonstrate primary responsibility for a large number of trials completed before NJ's courts.
Less than three percent of the attorneys in New Jersey have been certified. According to the Office of Client Protection Fund, there are 60,000 attorneys in New Jersey, less than one percent of whom qualify as Certified Civil Trial Attorneys (CCTA).
The designation "Certified Trial Attorney," criminal or civil, is granted by the New Jersey Supreme Court to attorneys who demonstrate a significant level of experience, education, knowledge and expertise in their trial practice. Attorneys who apply for certification must meet stringent standards set by the Board of Trial Certification.
Further requirements include unblemished reputation. Applicants must submit a list of other attorneys and judges who can attest to their character and ability. Finally, the applicant must pass a full day's written examination covering various aspects of trial practice.
The Certification program provides a useful consumer guide to identifying attorneys with specific legal experience in handling matters that may go to trial. Certified attorneys may retain the distinction for only seven years before applying for recertification, at which time they must satisfy another set of requirements, insuring they have retained their competence.