Condos in Miami.

The Florida Bar has certified 129 attorneys—nearly half of them based in South Florida—for their expertise in condominium and planned development law, as part of a new program that reflects the growth of planned community living in the state.

The 129 attorneys are the first to obtain this certification.

“There are so many condominiums and master planned communities in Florida … that we thought these communities have very specialized issues and needs, and the people who practice in that area should have the expertise,” said Margaret “Peggy” Rolando, a partner at Shutts & Bowen in Miami. She chairs the Condominium and Planned Development Law Committee at The Florida Bar.

While attorneys don’t need the certification to practice, it tells clients that these attorneys have the experience and expertise in this legal realm and have been peer reviewed for their qualifications, Rolando said.

The certification is for attorneys who have worked on any side of condominium and planned development law, whether representing developers in drafting documents or representing associations, but they have to show their experience.

“I think it’s a very good way of sending a signal to the consumer that the person who has this certification has the experience and expertise,” Rolando said.

To obtain the certification, attorneys must have practiced at least five years in this field, with 40 percent of that practice in three of the five years within this area, Rolando said.

In addition, attorneys have to complete 50 hours of continuing education classes in this field in the past three years. The attorneys can select where they take the courses, but the provider must be approved by the condominium and planned development committee.

The attorneys also have to pass a six-hour exam, but attorneys who have been practicing in this area of law for 20 years are exempt.

Such was the case with Eisinger, Brown, Lewis, Frankel & Chaiet founding member Dennis Eisinger and shareholder Jed Frankel in Hollywood, who were two of the 20 Broward County-based attorneys to get the certification.

The certification is a good way to help clients pick an attorney to represent them in condominium and planned development law disputes, Frankel said.

The program also shows how the residential landscape in Florida has evolved as condominiums and planned development communities become more common.

“It’s staggering what a large percentage of our population lives not only in condominiums but also in homeowners associations and co-ops. You look at the skyline and see all these buildings, and it’s really important that when people have issues in this area that they go to somebody who has this particular knowledge,” Frankel said. “This is one of those areas that you can’t pick up a book and become an expert because there’s so many different complications.”

The Condominium and Planned Development Law Committee, whose nine members are also practitioners in this legal realm, wrote and graded the exams, reviewed applicants’ peer reviews and oversee other certification duties.

Out of the 129 certified attorneys, 17 are based in Miami-Dade County and 21 in Palm Beach, according to The Florida Bar’s website.

For a full list of all certified attorneys, visit https://www.floridabar.org/about/cert/cert-cp-mbrs/.

The applications for certification next year opened June 1 and must be postmarked Aug. 31. To apply and for more information, visit https://www.floridabar.org/about/cert/cert-cp/.