Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Blogging the Board Of Bar Examiners Hearings: Sometimes They Just Nail It

The Board of Bar Examiners is made up of lawyers and non lawyers. Unlike the non-lawyers who serve on Grievance Committees for Bar discipline who "hate lawyers" (that's a quote from a lawyer for the Bar)I find the non-lawyers on the Board of Bar Examiners to be a thoughtful bunch. The lawyers, whether it's in an effort to "teach the applicant a lesson," sometimes, well often, act as if they've never, ever, ever, ever, had a misstep.

Everytime I walk into a hearing, having spent a good deal of time with my client and coming to understand the events that brought them to this table, this court reporter, this hour or so of "did you think that was the right thing to do," I wonder "do they get it?" Do they have a comprehensive understanding of this applicant? Will we concentrate on the important issues during the hearing, or why my client has too many traffic tickets or switches colleges between 1968-1973?

This past week I had a hearing where the panel nailed it. My client had specific issues, caused by specific problems, and that was the bulk of the hearing. It was the non-lawyer who summarized the issues best and delved into the specifics.

The lawyers, asked good questions, but many were couched in "I can't understand why you did this," or "I'm not convinced."

I hear this often and I wonder what it accomplishes. There is a difference between an applicant lying and the panelist's disbelief that they may actually be telling the truth. The issue is character and fitness, not whether the panelist has a personal opinion of the applicants past. These hearings are starting to run too long, and are becoming more of a sounding board then a search for whether this person has the character and fitness to be a lawyer.

In this hearing, overall, they nailed it. They kept it to the issues, and what was important.

I'd like to see more of that.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. Read his free ebook The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer. Please visit


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