Aviation law was approved by the Supreme Court of Florida as an area of certification in 1995, with the initial group certified in 1996. Board certification in this field is of great benefit to the public because it identifies aviation specialists who have made a special commitment to their clients and their law practice.
Because the field of aviation law includes many matters governed by the federal aviation regulations and by treaties, an understanding of common law and traditional legal theories is often not sufficient for an attorney to be able to properly represent aviation clients. Representation of a client in an aviation-related matter, by an attorney who is not specifically familiar with aviation law, may do that client a grave injustice and may also expose the attorney to malpractice liability.
Board certification enables an aviation law practitioner to tell members of the public that they are available to handle aviation-related matters. Traditional means of advertising, such as in the Yellow Pages, may not convey an attorney's true familiarity with aviation law, as many attorneys, who handle only personal injury cases, advertise themselves as aviation lawyers. Such attorneys may not be familiar with, or competent to handle, other aviation-related matters, such as those involving aircraft sale, purchase, registration and security interest transactions, aircraft sales tax and use tax, aircraft ownership and operation, airline labor law, aviation-related insurance claims, aeromedical issues, enforcement actions against airmen, airport land use, and space law. While every board certified aviation lawyer may not handle every type of aviation matter, because of their ability to recognize the legal issues peculiar to aviation, the likelihood increases that they will be able to recommend another board certified aviation lawyer with even more specialized knowledge in the particular area of aviation law involved.
Board certification not only assists the public, it assists other lawyers. An attorney who has made the commitment to board certification is truly a specialist in aviation law. Attorneys who do not practice aviation law can turn to The Florida Bar list of board certified aviation lawyers for assistance in those cases. When given the choice between a board certified lawyer and a noncertified lawyer, more often than not, such referring lawyers, as well as prospective clients, are selecting board certified lawyers to serve them.
Although board certified lawyers are still a minority in the overall membership of The Florida Bar, that minority represents the best talent in each area of certification. Many lawyers feel that beard certification is just another test and that it is not worth their time, that the success of their practice does not require it. But, if you are an attorney who practices in the field of aviation law, the Aviation Law Certification Committee strongly encourages certification. Certification is confirmation of your dedication, professionalism, and competence in the area of aviation law. As lawyers and the public become aware and accustomed to the meaning of board certification the achievement will undoubtedly influence referrals and hiring.
Initial certification is granted upon a candidate's showing of competence in aviation law. This requires completion of an application and demonstration that a substantial amount of their practice is in the field of aviation law. Also required are peer recommendations, aviation-related continuing legal education and passing a written exam.
The application deadline is August 31 each year for eligibility to take the exam the following March. The exam covers the areas of litigation, federal aviation regulations and FAA enforcement actions, international treaties and conventions, airline labor law, space law, aircraft finance and registration, and airport operations and land use. A bibliography is available to aid exam candidates in their preparation. Recertification is necessary every five years and entails satisfying the substantial practice, CLE, and peer recommendation requirements only.