The information listed below will help you decide if accreditation is the right step for you on your career journey. If you have any questions about applying, please get in touch by email via email@example.com
Specialist accreditation is about more than having worked in an area of law for several years. Accreditation recognises solicitors who have developed a particular expertise and a depth of knowledge in an area and handle more complex work and cases. You might find it helpful to think about the following areas in deciding if you are ready to apply:
- Check the specific requirements for your chosen field here
- Do you have the knowledge and experience in this area of the law to be regarded as capable beyond the ordinary?
- Do your colleagues and others regard you as knowledgeable in this area and do they seek out your advice and guidance with problem cases?
- Do you present in-house or external training or teach in the area of law?
- Do you write on this area of law for in-house distribution, a web site, newspapers or legal publications?
- Is much of your caseload complex and unusual as opposed to routine standard work?
- Do you work autonomously or lead a team as opposed to being a junior member of a larger team?
If you feel that you can answer yes to many of these points, then you may wish to consider applying. Drafting an application and then asking a trusted colleague to review it may also be helpful.
As part of the application, you must submit at least ten cases or matters of note which best demonstrate your experience from the five years prior to your application. You can add up to a further five cases to aid your application if you wish.
****Please note the cases and matters listed must be anonymised, any applications received which have details which identify any of the parties will be returned to you to do this and this will delay assessment of the application****
You will also be assessed on your training, along with any training you provide to others as well as authorship of articles and books on your chosen area of law. There is no need to submit copy course papers, file papers or documents although the panel reserve the right to request these.
All submitted information will be treated in the strictest of confidence by the accreditation panel and applicants may be required to attend an in-person interview at the panel’s discretion.
Applications are assessed by a panel and are based on a demonstration of significant experience in your area of specialism. Ideally you should have significant experience in the area gained over several years.
‘Significant experience’ is a combination of different factors. Below is a list of factors that the panels take into consideration.
- Proportion of time/chargeable hours spent working in the area of specialism. Generally applicants would be expected to spend a significant amount of their time working in the area of the specialism, although there is no set number of hours or proportion of your work time required.
- Complexity of cases and matters of note. The ideal submission would include anonymised details of 10 - 15 cases and/or matters of note using the table format in the application form.
- Role in those cases, that is, whether the applicant was the lead solicitor, instructed Counsel, part of team etc.
- Attendance at suitable training course (including in-house courses where appropriate). Ideally applicants should provide details of training completed within the last five years and concentrate on training done within the two years prior to applying.
- Participation in teaching at training courses (including in-house courses where appropriate). Ideally applicants should provide details covering the teaching completed within the last five years and concentrate on the teaching completed in the two years prior to applying.
- Authorship of books, articles, website and in-house materials.
Please provide details of two referees with appropriate knowledge and standing in your area of specialism.
Referees will be sent a link to complete an online reference form as soon as your application has been submitted, and they may be called upon to give further information to supplement your application.
The independence and professional standing of your referees will be taken into account, and you should note that references from clients or colleagues from your organisation will not carry the same weight as a wholly independent reference.
Panel members are not permitted to give references.
From 1 November 2023, the fee to apply to be accredited or re-accredited is £370 plus VAT (£444). The fee is non-returnable and is payable at the time of submitting your application. Fees can be paid:
- online by the applicant only via credit or debit card.
- by BACS or by someone other than the applicant by prior arrangement. To organise this contact firstname.lastname@example.org
If applying for the status of Approved Solicitor Arbitrator, there will be additional steps in your accreditation. Please note, you must hold a current specialist accreditation in arbitration law to be considered for Approved Solicitor Arbitrator.
As part of your application process, you must demonstrate very specific experience in relation to arbitration awards by providing:
- Details of two anonymised Arbitration Awards delivered in the five years preceding the date of this application, and/or
- Evidence of relevant decision making in judicial or quasi-judicial roles, eg Temp Sheriff or Tribunal Chair, and/or
- Evidence of formal training such as Fellowship of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators or membership of the panel of arbitrators of the Family Law Arbitration Group or equivalent
Candidates applying to become an Approved Solicitor Arbitrator should complete this application form.
Further information for applicants
If you are successful in becoming an accredited specialist you will receive a certificate to confirm your accreditation, and the the right to use an exclusive badge on your website, letters, emails and for marketing. Your details in Find-A Solicitor will show that you are an accredited specialist.
Your accreditation will run for a period of five years, after which you are entitled to apply for renewal of your status. If re-applying, you must submit your application no less than two months before your expiry date. Re-accreditation will run from the expiry date, notwithstanding the date of the application panel’s meeting or consideration of an application. The fee for re-accreditation fee is £370 plus VAT (£444).
We recommend you put a reminder in your diary a minimum of three months before your status is set to expire, to ensure your renewal is submitted in good time.
We would also recommend you keep note of any interesting cases/authorship/presentations throughout the five-year period of your accreditation to assist with the application of your renewal.
The application may be unsuccessful where the panel feel that:
- The requirements listed have not been met
- There is insufficient evidence of expertise
- The references were not strong enough
- There were complaints or claims against the an individual that would be contrary to holding a specialist status.
You must advise the panel of any complaint or claim that has been made against you or your firm as a result of your actions over the last five years. We may delay your application until any complaint or claim has been considered.
If your application is unsuccessful, you may ask the panel to review their decision within 21 days of intimation of their refusal, and you may submit additional material in support of your request.
If this review results in further refusal, you may appeal the panel review's decision by completing an appeal form and submitting it to the Appeal Panel within 21 days of intimation of further refusal, and the panel of first instance will make all information relating to their decision available to the Appeal Panel for their final decision.
An appeal after a review may only be made on these specific grounds:
- A material changes in circumstances which was not considered by the original panel
- New evidence which was not considered by the original panel
- An error in fact or law reflected in the decision of the original pane
Please note, all fees paid on application/re-application are non-returnable so please do not apply unless you feel you meet the listed requirements.
We retain the right to suspend your accreditation before the expiry of the five-year period. This may take place if circumstances come to our attention which would make this course of action necessary.
Your accreditation will be automatically suspended, without notice, if your practising certificate is suspended for any reason.
Where your practising certificate is restricted for any reason, the Accreditation Panel will be asked to consider what action should be taken in relation to your accreditation. This may include suspension or removal of the accreditation. If this happens you will be given 21 days-notice of a referral to the panel and will be entitled to make representations in writing or (if the panel meets in person) in person.
If your accreditation is suspended or withdrawn after consideration by the panel, you will have a right to appeal against this decision.
As part of our equality and diversity policy, please email email@example.com, if you need any adjustments to the application process.