Does "Specialization Certification" Benefit the Solo
In June of 2006 I wrote a column blasting the Connecticut Bar Association Real Property Section's attempt to pass through "specialization certification" status in residential Real Estate. It set off a firestorm of responses, mostly applauding my speaking out against this push. It came primarily from solos who felt their business options would be severely limited. Associates within large firms felt if they were forced to get "specialization certification" it would hamper any moves they might make in the future because they would be "labeled." I have posted the column below.
However, I would like to clarify my thoughts on "specialization certification" in Residential Real Estate in a few simple sentences.
Any judicially sanctioned program or peer sponsored review board that seeks to limit your right to use your professional license is not acceptable to me and should not be to you, either. You may truly believe that "specialization certification" will help your business if you can elevate your "authority" status beyond other non-specializing attorneys. And you will take all the courses, exams, overweight your practice in that area of your speciality and then be approved by your peers all in the name of giving yourself a competitive edge but disguised as "protecting the public." Understand, though, a house with every imaginable alarm system to keep intruders out also makes you a prisoner in your home.
How you practice, how you grow in your practice, how you change your practice should be totally up to you without any limits other than the basic rules of professional conduct. If you need or want to shift gears in your practice areas for whatever reason you should be able to do so without suffering professionally or financially because you are not "certified" in the practice area you now want to try.
"Specialization Certification," especially in something as basic as residential real estate, is created by those who are already at the top of their game. It has nothing to do with protecting the public. It has everything to do with closing the palace doors on the great unwashed masses of new lawyers looking to raid the royal coffers. (Can you say, "Real Estate Bubble Has Burst?)
In the news today an excerpt:
Economists at Goldman Sachs estimate that housing-related industries — construction, furniture manufacturing and sales, real estate agents, mortgage brokers — will see more than 1 million jobs evaporate over the next two years because of the housing slowdown after five boom years for sales.
Anyone who has ever shopped for a lawyer knows you can get the information you need about who is good or the tops in their field with a little research. The real acknowledgement that you are a respected authority in your field is the court of public opinion. And that honor is bestowed upon you with increased business through the word-of-mouth of satisfied clients and your professional colleagues.