Friday, April 17, 2009

Blogging From The Florida Board Of Bar Examiners Hearings


Sitting here in the lobby of the Doubletree Hotel in Tallahassee the evening before a few hearings before the Florida Board of Bar Examiners.

As a side note, Doubletree hotels are in my hall of shame for charging $9.95 for internet access. Time to grow up guys, stop collecting gravy.

Anyway, these hearings are at various locations throughout the year, this month, the state capitol. Four applicants tomorrow starting at 8 a.m. and hopefully ending at 10 a.m. Each hearing set for a half hour - and if it runs over, it usually means an issue has caught the attention of the examiners. The issues tomorrow are varied. Failure to disclose arrests on a law school application, failure to timely amend the Bar application, a serious car accident, and others.

What matters most in these hearings? The applicant's attitude. An applicant can have a minor issue, and commit major blunders in the hearing. Some applicants think their issues are "no big deal," and act in that manner. Big mistake.

In the lobby here I see members of the Board, casually dressed but nervous applicants awaiting tomorrow's hearings, and hotel guests having no idea that a couple dozen future lawyers are sweating it out tonight, before they sweat it out tomorrow.

After tomorrow morning, it'll be 7 days until the word is out - the applicant is a lawyer, the applicant needs a formal hearing, the applicant, well, has other issues.

Until then.

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



Chris said...

Hi Brian,

When would be the best time to retain a lawyer such as yourself for matters of this nature?

My guess would be before an applicant fills out, or submits, their Bar application, so they can benefit from your advice before a hearing actually becomes a reality.

Do you offer pricing options for your consultation on the application, and then additional fees for the actual hearing if there is one?

I have an issue I know I'm going to have to face one day when I appy for the Bar (I'm an entering 1L). It's not because of failure to disclose, but more so the nature of the violation. I also fear there might be a small discrepency in my law school application versus my Bar application due to a small court administrative error, which I have documentation to prove this was in fact the case (I had a bench warrant issued for a failure to complete community service for an arrest; I never should have had a warrant issued because I did indeed complete the community service and the judge promptly removed it). The arrest, not the warrant, is noted on my law school application. I didn't list the warrant because it came to light after the fact and when it surfaced I immediately took care of the mistake.

Thanks in advance for your advice!

Anonymous said...

I'm no bar defense attorney, but I just went through this with my school and it went well - in part because I placed a phone call to the host of this blog. No matter how much looking around the internet you do, the number of cases you read, or dire warnings on bar websites you mull over, the advice I think is pretty straightforward at this point (go ahead and correct me if I miss something here BT): (1) get all of your documents in order - go over the top and call places you are sure have no records on you, but did have jurisdiction. Record all of your efforts. Repeat, record all of your efforts - who you spoke with, their title and what they told you. Call these people: Municipal, juvenile, and county courts that had jurisdiction over you and ask them if they have anything (telling them your story will go along way to getting assistance you might not otherwise get on the phone); then call every DA's office, then call all the police departments and ask for records of contact, get a hold of all your DMV records, submit your fingerprints to the FBI and the states in which you might have had a problem. If you have expunged records, submit a motion to the court to have them unexpunged. Once you have gathered all of this information (remembering that the lack of information - your call and contact records with all of these agencies - will be persuasive in and of themselves, then you are ready to approach the school. The sheer volume and attention to detail you've given this will help to illustrate that you are genuinely trying to tell them everything and not trying to put something else over on them. I don't know what your underlying problem is, but excepting something pretty serious, it is going to be the errors or omissions - no matter how small, that get you. Good luck, you'll be fine, and you'll feel much better when you get this ball rolling.