What is a California Bar Association Criminal Law Specialist?

What is a California Bar Association Criminal Law Specialist?

Like many other careers, the job description of “lawyer” that people are familiar with often is not where the individual’s expertise ends. For example, people can be doctors but then specialize their practice as pediatricians or oncologists. Even farther than that, they could become pediatric surgeons or oncology surgeons. It is much the same with lawyers, who can become government lawyers, public sector lawyers, personal injury lawyers, and criminal lawyers, just to name a few. The team at Mirador Law have two such criminal law specialists who are prepared to meet your legal needs. This article will delve into exactly how one becomes a specialist and how you can find one who can help you.

How Does One Become a Specialist in The State Of California? 

Specializing, like any title, comes with requirements, standards, and evaluations in order to maintain that title. It is quite an accomplishment to have successfully been recognized as a specialist since the State of California has a very high expectation for these types of lawyers.


The process of becoming a specialist is controlled and regulated by the State of California, so all exams, paperwork, and certification are processed through the state.

  • Exam: Passage of a written examination about the legal specialty that they would like to specialize in.
  • Practice: The lawyer in question must have practiced law in general for a minimum of 5 years, and then a minimum of 25% of that time, given to practicing endeavors actively within the desired specialty.
  • Education: Must show completion of continuing education within the specialty, beyond that needed of general licensees of the initial bar examination.
  • Understanding: There must be a demonstration of a broad-based and comprehensive expertise within the interest specialty, supported completion of a wide range of matters pertaining to the specialty.
  • Peer evaluations: There must be favorable evaluations by attorneys and judges acquainted with the attorney’s work within the interest specialty of law.

The State Bar of California needs to approve every attorney’s application. Organizations whose certification program is State Bar-accredited can certify attorneys, however their certification qualifications are equal to or exceed those of the State Bar of California’s program.

Once certified, specialists must maintain their certification by continuing to work on tasks within their field and reporting those to the state every 5 years. They also need to report 36 hours of Legal Specialist Continuing Legal Education (LSCLE) every 3 years, along with their MCLE compliance cohort.

Is My Attorney a Specialist?

To check a California State attorney’s official State Bar record, inquiries should be sent through Attorney Search. If the Golden State lawyer is a certified specialist, the attorney’s record will be listed in the specialization section or tab.

Neither the State Bar of California nor its Board of Legal Specialization will give lawyer referrals. However, a listing of certified specialists is accessible on those websites.

In addition, several local bar and alternative organizations provide professional referral services. (Please note that a “certified” professional referral service won’t always offer a referral to a licensed specialist so be sure to research and make sure that the lawyer is truly a licensed specialist.)

Where Can I Find a Criminal Law Specialist Near Me? 

On their website, https://members.calbar.ca.gov/search/ls_search.aspx there is a search tool that allows people to search for different types of specialists in their state. That way you can know who the best specialists are, and where you can find the best lawyer for your situation. If you are located in Pleasanton, Livermore or Dublin area, contact us at Mirador Laws for your free initial consultation.

Are The Lawyers at Mirador Law Criminal Law Specialists? 

Yes! We are one of the few Bay Area law firms where two of our partners are active criminal law specialists. Here’s an introduction to our Criminal Law specialists:

Megan Burns

Megan Burns is a Mirador Law partner who supports clients in coping with the legal issues of criminal defense. She also supports clients with personal injury law issues. In 2004, Megan Burns graduated from the School of Law at Lewis & Clark and began practicing law. Megan is an actively registered and practicing criminal law specialist. See Megan’s profile here.

Emily L. Dahm

Emily L. Dahm is a highly acclaimed Criminal Defense lawyer representing clients throughout Contra Costa and Alameda County areas. She assists with personal injury lawsuits as well. Emily Dahm attended Berkeley School of Law and graduated in 2004 from the University of California, and has been practicing law since 2004. She is actively registered and is a practicing criminal law specialist. See Emily’s profile here.

Where Can I Get Help?

The lawyers at Mirador Law have an excellent reputation in Northern California, both in the criminal justice bar and among the insurance companies that handle personal injury claims. Our firm has been in existence since 1973, with many of our cases referred to us by judges, other lawyers, and our former clients. Our lawyers teach trial tactics at law schools in the Bay Area and are regularly invited to speak by professional organizations and public agencies. Your choice of attorney can create respect that will reflect well on you and help you achieve your goals. They have been determined to be Super Lawyers, and they strive to provide the best care possible for the legal needs of our clients. Contact us today at Mirador Law for your free initial consultation.


  1. http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Attorneys/Legal-Specialization
  2. http://www.courts.ca.gov/cms/rules/index.cfm?title=nine&linkid=rule9_35
  3. https://members.calbar.ca.gov/search/ls_search.aspx
  4. https://www.calbar.ca.gov/Attorneys/Certified-Legal-Specialization/Recertification
  5. http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Attorneys/Legal-Specialization/Becoming-a-Certified-Specialist