This article originally appeared in The Bar Examiner print edition, Fall 2018 (Vol. 87, No. 3), pp 1–2.

By Michele A. Gavagni

Portrait photo of Michele A. GavagniGreetings, and welcome to a new NCBE year. I am very honored to be serving as NCBE chair for the 2018–19 year. I would like to take a moment to express my deep appreciation for the accomplishments of NCBE’s outgoing chair, the Honorable Rebecca White Berch, retired Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court. Justice Berch provided tremendous leadership during the transition from Erica Moeser’s retirement as NCBE president after 23 years at the helm to the stepping in of our new president, Judy Gundersen. I would also like to thank Judy Gundersen for her ambitious agenda for the Board this past year. Justice Berch and Judy Gundersen both started the year at a swift pace, and that pace has not slowed at all.

NCBE and the Council of Bar Admission Administrators (CBAA) held their joint annual meeting in Asheville, North Carolina, in August, with 85 attendees representing 38 jurisdictions. The CBAA committees held their meetings, which were open to all attendees, and plenary sessions were presented on the topics of identifying and addressing exam day irregularities, maintaining test site security, varying models in jurisdiction character and fitness investigation processes, and mental health and wellness issues in the bar admission process.

At the meeting, NCBE chair Honorable Rebecca White Berch recognized former chair Honorable Thomas J. Bice of Iowa for his numerous contributions to NCBE during his terms as a trustee and as chair of the Board in 2015–16. Also recognized was Emily J. Eschweiler, director of the Minnesota Board of Law Examiners, who was completing her term as 2017–18 chair of the CBAA. As CBAA chair, Emily attended each of NCBE’s Board meetings this past year, and we were most appreciative of her participation and contributions.

Each year at the meeting, the NCBE chair recognizes a bar admission administrator for outstanding service to the bar admissions community. This year’s recipient was Susan Q. Gleeson, who retired at the end of August after 39 years of service with the Colorado Supreme Court—37 years of which were with the Colorado Board of Law Examiners and later the Office of Attorney Admissions. Sue also served as chair of the CBAA in 2007–08.

The NCBE Board of Trustees has been very busy this past year with several key goals, including the launch of the Testing Task Force; the transition to computer-based testing for the MPRE; and migrating the NCBE study aids for the MBE, MPRE, MEE, and MPT to a new learning management platform. I am very excited to have the opportunity to work this next year on continuing to advance these initiatives with the full Board. I look forward to assistance and guidance from the Executive Committee, which consists of the Honorable Cynthia L. Martin of Missouri as chair-elect, Hulett (Bucky) Askew of Georgia as secretary, and the Honorable Rebecca White Berch as immediate past chair.

As announced at the NCBE Annual Bar Admissions Conference in April, the Testing Task Force appointed by NCBE in January 2018 is charged with undertaking a three-year study to ensure that the bar examination continues to test the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for competent entry-level legal practice in the 21st century. The Honorable Cynthia L. Martin of Missouri is serving as chair of the Task Force, and the Task Force has met monthly since its inception. In April the Task Force launched its own website, which is regularly updated with news and blog posts. The website provides numerous resources about lawyer knowledge, skills, and abilities; the future of the legal profession; international lawyer licensing; other U.S. licensure and credentialing testing programs; and testing and assessment. If you have not already done so, I encourage you to visit the website at and subscribe to receive updates with the latest Task Force news, research, and blog posts.

Progress is on schedule for the transition to computer-based testing for the MPRE, which is an exciting transition but has many (read many, many, many) moving parts that all have to be aligned to ensure its success. I must acknowledge the NCBE staff members for their tremendous efforts in this regard. This is an enormous challenge, and the NCBE staff is handling it masterfully while still ensuring that all of NCBE’s ongoing responsibilities are met—developing exam products; providing exam-related and character and fitness investigation services; and providing high-­quality, timely, and relevant educational programs and resources for the bar admissions community and all those interested in the intersection between legal education, the bar exam, bar admissions, and the legal profession in the United States.

The Board and I would like to thank Bobby Chong of Hawaii for his untiring service to the Board for the past nine years as he completed his term as immediate past chair in August. Hands down, Bobby wins for the longest distance traveled to the many meetings he has attended as trustee, which he has always done with a smile and a hearty dose of Hawaiian hospitality. I would also like to welcome our newest Board member, Augustin (Augie) Rivera, Jr., from Texas. And I extend a warm welcome to the incoming chair of the CBAA for 2018–19, Marilyn J. Wellington, executive director of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners. We look forward to Marilyn’s participation and input at our meetings this upcoming year.

I would also like to thank the many members of the NCBE drafting committees for their uncompromising commitment to the development of the MBE, MPRE, MEE, and MPT test items. And finally, a sincere thank-you to all who have agreed to serve on NCBE committees for the 2018–19 year. These committees succeed in their charges each year because of the dedication to bar admissions that all of you share. We could not do what we do without your generous giving of time and talent.

I look forward to a very exciting year!


Michele A. Gavagni

Michele (Missy) Gavagni

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