By Michele A. Gavagni
It has been a tremendous honor to serve this year as chair of NCBE’s Board of Trustees. I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to serve with so many dedicated and talented trustees over the past nine years. I would be remiss if I didn’t again thank all the NCBE committee members for volunteering their time and talent throughout this past year. I had the distinct pleasure to attend all the policy committee meetings during my term as chair, and each committee pursued its objectives with energy and dedication.
As my term as NCBE chair draws to a close, I am reflecting on the very productive year NCBE has had under the superb leadership of NCBE president Judy Gundersen. We had one of the largest-ever Annual Bar Admissions Conferences in San Francisco at the beginning of May, with 381 attendees from 54 jurisdictions. The speakers presented valuable information across the legal continuum, from law school admission to legal practice today. I am grateful to all the speakers who offered their knowledge about their unique areas of expertise to the Conference attendees. See this issue’s summary of the many thought-provoking sessions presented at this year’s Conference.
In April, NCBE launched a new website devoted to the Bar Examiner, making information about bar admissions and related topics easier to access than ever. You may now browse articles by topic, access an archive of articles spanning over 10 years, and view the annual bar examination and admission statistics in an interactive format. You may now also share articles easily with others interested in bar admissions. I encourage you to subscribe to the online Bar Examiner if you have not done so already.
The NCBE Testing Task Force completed its first year and is well into the second year of its three-year study to ensure that the bar examination continues to evaluate the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed for competent entry-level practice in the legal profession. On August 1, the Task Force’s Practice Analysis Survey was opened, offering lawyers the opportunity to participate in the Task Force’s effort to collect empirical data regarding the tasks new practitioners perform and the knowledge, skills, and abilities they need to accomplish their work. I appreciate the many jurisdictions that have agreed to help distribute the Practice Analysis Survey for the Task Force. The Task Force’s accomplishments during its first year are detailed in its recently released First Year Report, available on the Task Force website.
In March, NCBE launched BarNow™, a new mobile-friendly, interactive eLearning platform featuring NCBE’s authentic, high-quality study aids. These study aids—which are intended to familiarize students with the format, style, and types of questions that are included on the MBE, MPRE, MEE, and MPT—continue to be priced very affordably for students preparing for the bar examination as part of NCBE’s commitment to supporting the law-student-to-lawyer pipeline.
As I write this, the final preparations are under way for the first administration of the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) via a computer-based delivery platform. Up to 5,000 examinees will take the MPRE by computer this August, and another up to 5,000 in November, in anticipation of the transition to full computerized administration in March 2020.
You may follow all these developments and more on NCBE’s social media channels, launched in fall 2018. Please follow us on social media and share with others!
This year also marks my 30th year in bar admissions with the Florida Board of Bar Examiners. While much has changed in the “how” of bar admissions, what has been unwavering is the commitment to the “why” of bar admissions—that is, the fundamental responsibility of protection of the public. I have such an admiration for everyone who shares this passion for bar admissions, but I would like to credit two of my all-time bar admission superheroes for being my polestars to this commitment: James (Jim) B. Tippin and Kathryn Ressel Seagle. Jim Tippin was the first executive director of the Florida Board of Bar Examiners. He created the foundation of bar admissions in Florida from the ground up and was one of the foundational leaders of the Council of Bar Admission Administrators. Kathryn Seagle was the third executive director in Florida and served as chair of NCBE’s Board of Trustees in 1997–1998. She hired me, believed in me, and set me on this exciting journey. To both, I am exceedingly grateful.
As I complete this year, I am honored to pass the gavel to NCBE’s incoming chair, the Honorable Cynthia L. Martin of Missouri. Judge Martin is also chair of NCBE’s Testing Task Force. She is one of the most thoughtful people I know—but hang on, because she is full speed ahead all the time. It is bound to be an exciting year under Judge Martin’s leadership as NCBE continues to fulfill its mission and serve the jurisdictions in the all-important process of bar admissions.
Michele (Missy) Gavagni