Nearly 150 Pennsylvania attorneys were recently certified by the Pennsylvania Bar
Association (PBA) as specialists in the practice of workers’ compensation law, the first time such a designation has been handed down since the state’s high court approved of a PBA recommendation last year granting accreditation powers to the association’s Workers’ Compensation Law Section, the PBA announced this week.
A total of 149 out of 155 lawyers who took the workers’ compensation law certification exam in early March in Mechanicsburg, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh were certified by the PBA, marking a passage rate of 96.2 percent.
With the Supreme Court’s 2012 order, the PBA’s Workers’ Compensation Law Section became the first bar association in Pennsylvania to receive approval as a certifying organization in this legal field.
“This new opportunity to become certified in the area of workers’ compensation is beneficial for experienced lawyers in the field and their clients,” Forest N. Myers, president of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, said in a statement. “Certification is going to give those in need of legal services in the workers’ compensation field valuable guidance when seeking counsel, and it’s going to offer legal practitioners the ability to highlight their knowledge and expertise.”
The attorneys who successfully completed the exam are certified for five years.
The exam focused on areas of workers’ compensation law and rules, in addition to leading case law in the specialty legal field, and it was comprised of 100 multiple-choice questions and two essays, according to John Bagnato, a Johnstown attorney who chairs the 12-member Certification Committee that oversaw the implementation of the exam.
“The application process to take the exam makes it clear from the outset that the certification is for those lawyers who have expertise in the workers' compensation field,” Bagnato said in a statement. “To pass muster to qualify for the exam, an applicant must establish by documentation that he or she is admitted to practice in Pennsylvania, is actively engaged in the practice of law for a minimum of five years and devotes a minimum of 50 percent of his or her practice to the specialty field of workers’ compensation.”
The exam is expected to be offered at least once a year, with the test’s questions anticipated to be revised and updated regularly to reflect changes in Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law.
Lawyers who desire to take the exam must submit documents showing active practice in the field of workers’ compensation as well as documents proving their participation in mandatory continuing legal education, according to the PBA.
It costs a total of $475 for an attorney to take the exam, the costs broken down between application submission and post-exam processing.
The Certification Committee is empowered to revoke certification under specialized circumstances, although an attorney can appeal the revocation, according to the PBA.
The most number of lawyers certified in the area of workers’ compensation hail from Philadelphia County, according to a breakdown of those who passed the test provided by the PBA.