Texas Board of Legal Specialization
On February 14, 2017, the Texas Supreme Court officially recognized Child Welfare Law as the 20th area of certified legal specialization. The TBLS Advisory Commission considers applications to become board certified in Child Welfare Law and has the authority to review and suggest changes in standards. The TBLS Exam Commission is responsible for drafting and grading the certification exam. Children’s Commission Legal Representation Director Dylan Moench has served as the chair of the Exam Commission since 2017.
Applications to become TBLS certified in Child Welfare Law open in the beginning of each new year. The application period closes in spring, and applicants are notified in summer if they qualify to take the fall exam. For the most current application and exam dates please visit the TBLS website.
Texas Child Welfare Law Specialization applicants are required to have:
- Devoted a minimum of 25% of his or her time practicing child welfare law in Texas during each of the three years immediately preceding the application;
- Served as lead counsel for a party or child from the inception of the case or time of appointment or engagement to final judgment in 10 cases that meet one of these requirements:
- A contested child welfare case in a trial court of record that involves oral testimony and factual findings, excluding default judgments; or
- An appeal in a child welfare case that is fully briefed on the merits at the appellate level. Under (b), an appeal that applicant prosecutes or defends in an intermediate appellate court and in the Supreme Court of Texas counts as one case.
- Participated in 20 cases that meet one of these requirements:
- A contested child welfare case in which the applicant served as lead counsel for a party or a child and that was resolved without a trial on the merits; or
- Post-trial proceedings in which the applicant played a substantial role.
For further information, please consult the complete Child Welfare Standards for Attorney Certification.
TBLS Exam Fee Reimbursement
Attorney and judicial applicants are required to pay the application fee and, if approved, to pay the examination fee in order to take the exam. Following successful completion of the exam, those who become Board Certified in Child Welfare Law will be eligible to receive reimbursement of their examination fee from the Children’s Commission.
Due to the confidential nature of the application process, verification from TBLS of applicant information is not available. After examination results are published, those who have successfully passed the exam can return to this page to complete and submit the reimbursement form to request reimbursement of their exam fee from the Children's Commission.
Please email any questions to Commission.Accounting@txcourts.gov
TBLS and National Association of Counsel for Children Child Welfare Law Specialist
TBLS has recently clarified its policy regarding the Child Welfare Law Specialist (CWLS) certification offered by the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC). Beginning in 2009, TBLS accredited NACC to certify Texas attorneys as CWLS. The CWLS examination only covers federal law, and no TBLS certification for Texas child welfare law existed at the time. However, TBLS has certified child welfare law as a specialty area since 2018 and the practice of child welfare law includes a substantial component of Texas law. Per TBLS accreditation standards, because TBLS certifies child welfare law as a specialty and child welfare practice is substantially based on Texas law, NACC will no longer be able to certify Texas attorneys as CWLS who have not previously been board certified by TBLS in child welfare law. NACC was notified of this provision in the accreditation standards in 2020 and the provision only applies to Texas attorneys seeking CWLS certification after January 1, 2021. Texas attorneys who obtained CWLS certification prior to January 1, 2021 are not required to first become board certified by TBLS.