Privacy Law

ABA House is asked to accredit program that certifies lawyers as privacy law specialists

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A program that certifies lawyers as privacy law specialists is expected to go before the ABA House of Delegates in February.

The International Association of Privacy Professionals administers the certification program. If the ABA House approves accreditation, lawyers who meet the IAPP’s standards could hold themselves out as privacy law specialists without violating state ethics rules that are based on the ABA model rules. Bloomberg BNA has a story.

Recognition of the privacy law specialty could benefit both consumers and lawyers, according to Hofstra University law professor Ellen Yaroshefsky.

“I think it’s advantageous both to lawyers seeking to obtain business but also hopefully to clients who want to reach out to the most sophisticated lawyer they can find,” Yaroshefsky told Bloomberg BNA. “Particularly because cyber and security and intellectual property are rapidly expanding fields, there is a perceived need to have a recognized specialty.”

Fourteen certification programs administered by seven private organizations are currently accredited by the ABA, according to Martin Whittaker, senior counsel for the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility. About a dozen state entities also certify specialties.

The proposed resolution to accredit the program is expected to be filed with the ABA House by Wednesday, Whittaker says. The accreditation would last for five years.

The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct provide that lawyers shouldn’t state or imply they are certified as specialists in a particular field of law unless they have been certified as specialists by a group that is approved by the appropriate state authority or that is accredited by the ABA.

The IAPP certification program would require lawyers to pass the group’s exam; pass a separate exam on legal ethics related to the practice of privacy law; and prove substantial involvement in the privacy law area for three years.

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