April 19–22, 2018 | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania skyline

The 2018 NCBE Annual Bar Admissions Conference was held at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on April 19–22. Fifty-four jurisdictions were represented by 366 conference attendees, which included 96 first-time attendees and 33 state Supreme Court justices.

The conference began on Thursday with an opening reception and a judicial roundtable for the state Supreme Court justices in attendance. NCBE Chair Hon. Rebecca White Berch of Arizona and NCBE President Judith A. Gundersen welcomed attendees to the conference on Friday and Saturday mornings.

New to this year’s conference was a one-hour plenary session on Friday afternoon, Sparks! Sessions on Ideas and Innovations, consisting of six concise and fast-paced presentations on the following topics: LGBTI Judicial Training (Speaker: Todd Brower), Legal Incubators (Speaker: Stephanie Everett), Legal Design (Speaker: Margaret Hagan), Washington LLLT (Speaker: Steve Crossland), Computer-Based Testing (Speaker: Douglas Ripkey), and Why the GRE? (Speaker: Marc Miller).

The remaining five plenary sessions and four sets of breakout sessions offered over the course of the conference covered a wide range of topics:

ADA Accommodations

New Cases and a New Presidential Administration, But Has Anything Changed?

How does the new presidential administration view the Americans with Disabilities Act? (Speaker: Robert Burgoyne)

The ADA in Practice—What We Are Observing

Case studies and data that identify the trends in law school and MPRE accommodations that will soon be at the bar admissions doorstep (Speaker: Brad Gilbert)

Bar Admissions

Primarily Engaged in the Active Practice of Law: Are We Behind the Times?

A collaborative session exploring the traditional criteria for admission on motion and its current relevance in the profession and the rapidly changing legal employment market (Speakers: Sherry Hieber, Bradley Skolnik, Marilyn Wellington)

Standard Setting Studies: Exploring Frameworks, Timelines, and Methodologies

Standard setting authorities lay out frameworks and methodologies for conducting an audit and review of an assessment program (Speakers: Chad Buckendahl, Ph.D.; Michael Kane, Ph.D.)

A View from the Courts

A conversational session with a panel of state Supreme Court justices who share what the bar admissions process looks like from the bench (Speakers: Hon. Paula Nakayama, Hon. Jenny Rivera, Hon. Ann Scott Timmer, Hon. Gerald VandeWalle)

Character and Fitness

Crime, Character, and Admissions

Recent jurisdiction experiences with applicants with substantial criminal backgrounds and the processes for evaluating their moral character and fitness (Speakers: Hon. Anne Dranginis, Jean Kelley McElroy)

Character and Fitness—One Jurisdiction’s Approach to Conducting Investigations Through Final Determination

From application to final determination, one jurisdiction’s approach to conducting a character and fitness investigation (Speakers: James (JT) Almon, Mark Huntsberger)

Case Studies in Character and Fitness: A Hands-On Session

A lively, interactive session of character and fitness scenarios presented in video format with discussion and determinations (Speakers: Barbara D’Aquila, Emily Eschweiler)

Reading the Signs of Successful Rehab: Evaluating Progress and Developing Standards

A foundation session on developing standards and processes for evaluating applicant progress in substance abuse treatment programs (Speakers: Patrick Krill, James Coyle)

Legal Education

So, What Does Raise Bar Exam Scores?

How one law school dramatically increased its bar passage rate in a year and new research exploring the relationship between experiential coursework and bar passage outcomes (Speakers: Robert Kuehn, Leo Romero)

The ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Education

The chair of the ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Education discusses key issues and the changing dynamics in legal education (Speakers: Andrea Sinner, Patricia White)

Law School Innovations: Responses to an Evolving Market

Thought leaders in legal education discuss groundbreaking programs and approaches they have taken in their institutions to address the changing market (Speakers: Darby Dickerson, Mark Gordon)

The Legal Profession

In the Queue: Profiles of Applicants, Law Students, and New Lawyers

Experts provide data and opinion on current conditions and future trends in terms of applicants, law school enrollments, the health of the law school market, and graduates moving into legal employment (Speakers: Barry Currier, James Leipold, Kellye Testy)

Alcohol Abuse, Addiction, Stress, and Other Wellness Challenges to the Legal Profession

Members of the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being share their groundbreaking assessment, recommendations, and action plans for improving the state of being for the profession (Speakers: Anne Brafford, Bree Buchanan, James Coyle, Patrick Krill)

Lawyers as Heroes

An eminent dean shares his vision of the true value of lawyers in today’s world (Speaker: Blake Morant)

Research

Diversity in Recruitment and Enrollment: Implications for the Future

The current and future implications of the downturn in law school enrollments on racial and ethnic stratification and an analysis of LSAC’s Top 240 Applicant Feeder Schools list (Speakers: Tiffane Cochran; Aaron Taylor, Ed.D.)

Testing

Basic Testing Concepts for Bar Examiners

Foundations of measurement that every bar examiner should know—reliability, validity, equating, and scaling—and pitfalls to avoid (Speakers: Joanne Kane, Ph.D.; Andrew Mroch, Ph.D.)

Prosecuting Cheating Cases

A dynamic look at building a strong cheating case from test date through prosecution based on observational evidence, data anomalies, and prior experiences (Speakers: Mark Albanese, Ph.D.; Christine Kenefick)

You Grade the Test!

Foundations of effective grading of the written components of the bar exam demonstrated in a hands-on essay grading exercise (Speakers: Adisa Harrington, Matthew Samuelson)

Unpacking the Bar Exam

Popular misconceptions and their counterarguments surrounding the purpose, integrity, scope, and composition of the bar exam (Speakers: Timothy Davis, Hon. Cynthia Martin, Alexander Scherr)

A Deeper Dive into the UBE

An exploration of beyond-the-basics UBE policies such as concurrent applications, courtesy seating, and retake limits; how such policies can be implemented and why jurisdictions might choose not to adopt them (Speakers: Kellie Early, John McAlary, Andrea Spillars)

Photos of Speakers

Sparks! Sessions on Ideas and Innovations

Marc Miller, Douglas Ripkey (NCBE), Steve Crossland, Todd Brower, Margaret Hagan (not shown: Stephanie Everett) Marc Miller, Douglas Ripkey (NCBE), Steve Crossland, Todd Brower, Margaret Hagan (not shown: Stephanie Everett)

A View from the Courts

Hon. Ann Scott Timmer (AZ), Hon. Jenny Rivera (NY), Hon. Phyllis Thompson (DC, moderator), Hon. Jerry VandeWalle (ND), Hon. Paula Nakayama (HI)Hon. Ann Scott Timmer (AZ), Hon. Jenny Rivera (NY), Hon. Phyllis Thompson (DC, moderator), Hon. Jerry VandeWalle (ND), Hon. Paula Nakayama (HI)

Crime, Character, and Admissions

Hon. Anne Dranginis (CT), Jean Kelley McElroy (WA)Hon. Anne Dranginis (CT), Jean Kelley McElroy (WA)

Diversity in Recruitment and Enrollment: Implications for the Future

Tiffane Cochran; Aaron Taylor, Ed.D.Tiffane Cochran; Aaron Taylor, Ed.D.

So, What Does Raise Bar Exam Scores?

Robert Kuehn, Leo RomeroRobert Kuehn, Leo Romero

Law School Innovations: Responses to an Evolving Market

Darby Dickerson, Mark GordonDarby Dickerson, Mark Gordon

Alcohol Abuse, Addiction, Stress, and Other Wellness Challenges to the Legal Profession

Anne Brafford, Patrick Krill, James Coyle (CO), Bree Buchanan (TX)Anne Brafford, Patrick Krill, James Coyle (CO), Bree Buchanan (TX)

Unpacking the Bar Exam

Timothy Davis, Hon. Cynthia Martin (MO), Alexander ScherrTimothy Davis, Hon. Cynthia Martin (MO), Alexander Scherr

In the Queue: Profiles of Applicants, Law Students, and New Lawyers

James Leipold, Kellye Testy, Barry CurrierJames Leipold, Kellye Testy, Barry Currier

Philadelphia in Photos

Conference attendees on a morning run in downtown Philadelphia: Penny Gessler (NCBE), Hon. Zel Fischer (MO), Paul Mills (ME), Cindy Lovato-Farmer (NM), Rosalyn Nguyen (NM), Andy Mroch (NCBE), Matt Wax-Krell (CT)Conference attendees on a morning run in downtown Philadelphia: Penny Gessler (NCBE), Hon. Zel Fischer (MO), Paul Mills (ME), Cindy Lovato-Farmer (NM), Rosalyn Nguyen (NM), Andy Mroch (NCBE), Matt Wax-Krell (CT)

 Jim Nowogrocki, Stephanie Angerer, Margie Hartman (all MO)
Jim Nowogrocki, Stephanie Angerer, Margie Hartman (all MO)

Tracy Metz, C. Robert Keenan, Malissia Bittner, Jane Wiles, Gicine Brignola, Jessica Holst (all PA)
Tracy Metz, C. Robert Keenan, Malissia Bittner, Jane Wiles, Gicine Brignola, Jessica Holst (all PA)

Jeff Styres, Kris Powell (both MS)
Jeff Styres, Kris Powell (both MS)

Nancie Givens, Waymond Brown (both AR)
Nancie Givens, Waymond Brown (both AR)


Conference attendees

Carol Kelly, Marilyn Wellington (both MA)
Carol Kelly, Marilyn Wellington (both MA)

Hon. Jeff Bivins (TN)
Hon. Jeff Bivins (TN)

Darin Scheer, James Bell (both WY)
Darin Scheer, James Bell (both WY)

Cindy Lovato-Farmer (NM)
Cindy Lovato-Farmer (NM)

Maribeth Preston, Donna Milhouse, Eric Pelton (all MI)
Maribeth Preston, Donna Milhouse, Eric Pelton (all MI)

  • Bar
    Bar Exam Fundamentals

    Addressing questions from conversations NCBE has had with legal educators about the bar exam.

  • 2021
    2021 Bar Admission Guide

    Comprehensive information on bar admission requirements in all US jurisdictions.

  • NextGen
    NextGen Bar Exam of the Future

    Visit the NextGen Bar Exam website for the latest news about the bar exam of the future.

  • BarNow
    BarNow Study Aids

    NCBE offers high-quality, affordable study aids in a mobile-friendly eLearning platform.

  • 2020
    2020 Year in Review

    NCBE’s annual publication highlights the work of volunteers and staff in fulfilling its mission.

  • 2020
    2020 Statistics

    Bar examination and admission statistics by jurisdiction, and national data for the MBE and MPRE.