Last month's essay argued for certification—or at least for sustained conversation about certification. Thoughtful comments, for and against, are posted here. This month, I offer thoughts and questions about how certification might work. I focus on possible certifying entities, processes and curricula for supporting courses.
Possible Certifying Entities
Certifying entities fall into three categories: academic, government and private.
Academic institutions certify acquisition of knowledge by granting degrees. The requirements vary widely by institution and subject matter.
Government bodies certify readiness to perform specific services that government has determined require certification, such as law, pharmacy, medicine, realty sales and engineering; even cosmetology, massage therapy and tattooing. In these situations, government rules prohibit noncertified persons from performing these services—or at least claiming to be certified when they are not. In the legal profession, certification beyond the general bar exam is rare; indeed bar rules typically prohibit a lawyer from claiming to "specialize" in anything (patent law is a prominent exception).
But—news from North Carolina, from a renewables lawyer there: "A group of attorneys in North Carolina is petitioning the North Carolina State Bar to create a new area of legal specialization for utilities law, which would include practice and procedure before the North Carolina Utilities Commission, representation of clients subject to the provisions of state and federal utilities law, and representation of investors in the field." The requirements would likely include "five years’ experience in utilities law, a minimum of 400-500 hours of practice in the area per year, CLE requirements, peer review, and passing an exam."