.2705 Standards for Certification as a Specialist in Workers' Compensation Law
Each applicant for certification as a specialist in workers' compensation law shall meet the minimum standards set forth in Rule .1720 of this subchapter. In addition, each applicant shall meet the following standards for certification in workers' compensation law:
(a) Licensure and Practice - An applicant shall be licensed and in good standing to practice law in North Carolina as of the date of application. An applicant shall continue to be licensed and in good standing to practice law in North Carolina during the period of certification.
(b) Substantial Involvement - An applicant shall affirm to the board that the applicant has experience through substantial involvement in the practice of workers' compensation law.
(1) Substantial involvement shall mean during the five years immediately preceding the application, the applicant devoted an average of at least 500 hours a year to the practice of workers' compensation law, but not less than 400 hours in any one year. "Practice" shall mean substantive legal work done primarily for the purpose of providing legal advice or representation, or a practice equivalent.
(2) "Practice equivalent" shall mean:
(A) Service as a law professor concentrating in the teaching of workers' compensation law for one year or more may be substituted for one year of experience to meet the five-year requirement set forth in Rule .2705(b)(1) above;
(B) Service as a mediator of workers' compensation cases may be included in the hours necessary to satisfy the requirement set forth in Rule .2705(b)(1) above;
(C) Service as a deputy commissioner or commissioner of the North Carolina Industrial Commission may be substituted for the substantial involvement requirements in Rule .2705(b)(1) above provided
(i) the applicant was a full time deputy commissioner or commissioner throughout the five years prior to application, or
(ii) the applicant was engaged in the private representation of clients for at least one year during the five years immediately preceding the application; and, during this year, the applicant devoted not less than 400 hours to the practice of workers' compensation law. During the remaining four years, the applicant was either engaged in the private representation of clients and devoted an average of at least 500 hours a year to the practice of workers' compensation law, but not less than 400 hours in any one year, or served as a full time deputy commissioner or commissioner of the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
(3) The board may require an applicant to show substantial involvement in workers' compensation law by providing information regarding the applicant's participation, during the five years immediately preceding the date of the application, in activities such as those listed below:
(A) representation as principal counsel of record in complex cases tried to an opinion and award of the North Carolina Industrial Commission;
(B) representation in occupational disease cases tried to an opinion and award of the North Carolina Industrial Commission; and
(C) representation in appeals of decisions to the North Carolina Court of Appeals or the North Carolina Supreme Court.
(c) Continuing Legal Education - An applicant must earn no less than 36 hours of accredited continuing legal education (CLE) credits in workers’ compensation law and related fields during the three years preceding application, with not less than six credits earned in courses on workers’ compensation law in any one year. The remaining 18 hours may be earned in courses on workers’ compensation law or any of the following related fields: civil trial practice and procedure; evidence; insurance; mediation; medical injuries, medicine, or anatomy; labor and employment law; Social Security disability law; and the law relating to long-term disability or Medicaid/Medicare claims.
(d) Peer Review - An applicant must make a satisfactory showing of qualification through peer review. An applicant must provide the names of ten lawyers, commissioners or deputy commissioners of the North Carolina Industrial Commission, or judges who are familiar with the competence and qualification of the applicant in the specialty field. Written peer reference forms will be sent by the board or the specialty committee to each of the references. Completed peer reference forms must be received from at least five of the references. All references must be licensed and in good standing to practice in North Carolina and have substantial practice or judicial experience in workers' compensation law. An applicant consents to the confidential inquiry by the board or the specialty committee of the submitted references and other persons concerning the applicant's competence and qualification.
(1) A reference may not be related by blood or marriage to the applicant nor may the reference be a partner or associate of the applicant at the time of the application.
(2) The references shall be given on standardized forms provided by the board to each reference. These forms shall be returned directly to the specialty committee.
(e) Examination - An applicant must pass a written examination designed to demonstrate sufficient knowledge, skills, and proficiency in the field of workers' compensation law to justify the representation of special competence to the legal profession and the public. The examination shall be given annually in written form and shall be administered and graded uniformly by the specialty committee.
History Note: Statutory Authority G.S. 84-23
Adopted by the Supreme Court May 4, 2000
Amendments Approved by the Supreme Court: March 10, 2011; March 5, 2015; December 14, 2021