Jurisdiction News

District of Columbia

Photo of Mark Carlin

Mark S. Carlin, former chair, District of Columbia Committee on Admissions

Mark S. Carlin, longtime member and former chair of the District of Columbia Committee on Admissions, passed away on December 22, 2018. Carlin served on the NCBE Board of Trustees from August 2007 to September 2013.

Florida

Scott L. Baena is the new chair of the Florida Board of Bar Examiners. Baena is a founding partner at Bilzin, Sumberg, Baena, Price & Axelrod LLP in Miami, Florida. He is a Director of Legal Services of Greater Miami, the Dade County Bar Association, and the Greater Miami Jewish Foundation and also currently serves on the Senior Lawyers Committee of the Florida Bar. Baena holds a J.D. from George Washington University.

David C. Reeves of Moseley, Prichard, Parris, Knight & Jones in Jacksonville, Florida, was elected vice-chair of the Florida Board of Bar Examiners. Reeves is a member of the Jacksonville Bar Association and of the Federal Bar Association in Jacksonville, of which he served as president from 2009 to 2010. He holds a J.D. from Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America.

The Supreme Court of Florida has appointed three new members to the Board of Bar Examiners to replace members whose terms have expired:

Dennis J. Alfonso of Dade City, Florida, was appointed to succeed Elizabeth J. Walters. Alfonso, who holds a J.D. from Stetson University College of Law, is a shareholder in the law firm McClain Alfonso P.A. He serves as general counsel to the Pasco County School Board, to the Clerk & Comptroller of Pasco County, and to the Hernando County School Board. He is a member of the Florida School Board Attorneys Association and is board certified in education law.

John J. Dierking of Clermont, Florida, was appointed to succeed Miles A. McGrane III. Dierking is a partner with Holland & Knight in Orlando, Florida. He received his J.D. with honors from the University of Florida College of Law. 

Rachelle R. Munson of Tallahassee, Florida, was appointed to succeed Nancy McClain Alfonso. Munson, a graduate of the University of Florida College of Law, is an Assistant Attorney General in the Tallahassee Administrative Law Bureau of the Office of the Attorney General. She serves as a board member of Florida Rural Legal Services Inc. and as a member of the Administrative Law and Government Lawyer sections of the Florida Bar.

Georgia

Photo of Hon. P. Harris Hines

Hon. P. Harris Hines, Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Georgia (Ret.)

Former Supreme Court of Georgia  Chief Justice P. Harris Hines (Ret.) passed away unexpectedly on November 4, 2018. Justice Hines had retired in August 2018 after having served for many years as the liaison justice to the Georgia Board of Bar Examiners and the Board to Determine Fitness of Bar Applicants.

Iowa

Justice Daryl L. Hecht, who served as one of the liaison justices to the Iowa Board of Law Examiners for several years, retired in December 2018. Justice Hecht was appointed to the Iowa Supreme Court in 2006.

The Iowa Supreme Court has approved amendments to the rules governing professional regulation, including a clarification of what constitutes being “regularly engaged in the practice of law” for attorneys seeking admission by transferred Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) score or by motion. The Court has clarified that term to mean that the applicant has practiced law for at least 1,000 hours per year. The Court has also amended the rules governing admission to the bar to remove the automatic, pre-score-release review process for the written components of the Iowa Bar Examination. These amendments became effective December 15, 2018.

Maine

Melissa Hansen is the new Executive Director for the Maine Board of Bar Examiners. She replaces Deborah Firestone, who had served as the Executive Director since 2009. Hansen previously worked as a paralegal in private practice focusing on litigation and immigration matters.

Maryland

The Court of Appeals of Maryland has enacted proposed rules adopting the MPRE and admission on motion and governing its adoption of the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE), effective March 1, 2019. The first administration of the UBE in Maryland will be the July 2019 examination; the qualifying UBE score will be 266. Maryland will begin accepting transferred UBE scores from other jurisdictions on July 1, 2019, with a maximum score age of three years. The Maryland Law Component, consisting of written materials outlining substantial distinctions in Maryland law and procedure followed by an online, timed, open-book quiz, is expected to go live on July 1, 2019, and will be mandatory for all UBE applicants and all petitioners for admission without examination.

Maryland will begin accepting petitions for admission without examination from experienced out-of-state attorneys on July 1, 2019, with a practice requirement of 3 of the past 5 years or a total of 10 years regardless of how recent.

Maryland will require the MPRE for all applicants/petitioners proceeding under the new rules. UBE applicants must report an MPRE score from an MPRE administration occurring not more than 37 months prior to their notice filing date. Applicants for admission without examination may report a score of any age so long as it is reportable by NCBE. The qualifying MPRE score is yet to be determined.

Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners has two new staff members: Character & Fitness Investigator Tiffany Maloney and Program Coordinator for Testing Sandra Strong.

Robert Harris has been appointed chair of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners. Harris, Director of Legal Practice and Talent Management at the law firm of Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP, was appointed to the Board in 2012. He succeeds Mela Lew following the October 2018 completion of Lew’s term as chair and her 10 years of service to the Board.

Joining the Board of Bar Examiners is Barbara Healy Smith. Smith is Senior Counsel for Compliance at Northeastern University’s Office of General Counsel. Prior to joining this office in 2013, Smith served for 13 years in the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Minnesota

The Minnesota Supreme Court has issued an order amending its Rules for Admission to the Bar pertaining to years of practice for admission on motion. Effective November 20, 2018, the new practice requirement is 36 of the 60 months immediately preceding the application (replacing the previous requirement of 60 out of 84 months) and 1,000 hours of the practice of law per year (replacing the previous practice of law standard of being engaged in the practice of law as “principal occupation”).

Mississippi

The Mississippi Board of Bar Admissions has selected a new chair and vice-chair of the Board, with Marcie Fyke Baria serving as chair and Pieter Teeuwissen serving as vice-chair. Baria has served as vice-chair of the Board for the past three years. Teeuwissen has served previous terms as chair (2009–2013) and vice-chair (2005–2009) of the Board and has been a member of the Board since 2002.

In November 2018, Jeffery A. Styres of Jackson, Mississippi, completed a three-year term as chair of the Mississippi Board of Bar Admissions and nine years of service on the Board. Styres also previously served on the Committee on Character and Fitness from 2005 to 2009.

J. William Manuel has been appointed to the Mississippi Board of Bar Admissions. Manuel, who holds a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, is a member of Bradley’s Litigation Practice Group in Jackson, Mississippi.

Missouri

Lori Strong-Goeke has joined the Missouri Board of Law Examiners in the new position of Assistant Director of Testing. Strong-Goeke was previously the Assistant Director for Planning at the Missouri Office of Administration.

The Supreme Court of Missouri has adopted changes to its Rules Governing Admission to the Bar in Missouri to include a new license, Temporary Admission for Attorney Spouses of Active Duty Military. The rule change is effective January 1, 2019.

New Jersey

The Supreme Court of New Jersey has appointed Heather J. Baker as the new Clerk of the Supreme Court, in which capacity she will serve as Secretary to the Board of Bar Examiners and will also oversee the functioning of the Committee on Character and the Board on Attorney Certification. Baker replaces Mark Neary, who retired after 27 years of service with the Supreme Court Clerk’s Office and who was appointed Clerk of the Supreme Court in 2009. Baker began her career with the judiciary in 2010 as a law clerk; after working as an attorney for a private firm, Baker returned to the Supreme Court in 2014 as a supervising staff attorney and has served as the Court’s Chief Counsel since 2016.

North Carolina

Judge Wanda G. Bryant and Judge Ned W. Mangum have been appointed to the North Carolina Board of Law Examiners to replace long-serving retiring members Judge A. Leon Stanback Jr. and Jaye P. Meyer. 

Judge Bryant serves on the North Carolina Court of Appeals, to which she was appointed in 2001. She has previously served as Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia and Senior Deputy Attorney General in the Office of the North Carolina Attorney General. In 2014, Judge Bryant became chair of the North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission. Judge Bryant received her J.D. from North Carolina Central University School of Law.

Judge Mangum serves on the District Court of Wake County, North Carolina, and currently serves as president of the Wake County Bar Association. He served as an Assistant District Attorney in Wake County from 1998 until 2008 when he was appointed to the bench. In 2014, Judge Mangum was appointed District Attorney to complete the term of the retiring District Attorney. He was elected District Court Judge in 2010, 2014, and 2018. Judge Mangum received his J.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Texas

Texas has adopted the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE). The first administration of the UBE in Texas will be the February 2021 examination. The date on which Texas will begin accepting transferred UBE scores from other UBE jurisdictions has not yet been determined.

Carlos Soltero of Austin, Texas, has been appointed to the Texas Board of Law Examiners to complete the term of Sandra C. Zamora, former chair of the Board, who resigned from the Board in September 2018.

Vermont

Erin Gallivan, an associate examiner for the Vermont Board of Bar Examiners since 2013, was appointed as an examiner to replace Patricia Killegrew, whose term on the Board ended after eight years of service. Gallivan is a partner in the Rutland firm of Meub Gallivan & Larson. She holds a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law. 

Kyle Sipples was appointed as an associate examiner to replace Gallivan. Sipples is General Counsel at the Autosaver Group in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Prior to that, Sipples spent several years as a Deputy State’s Attorney and a civil attorney in private practice. He holds a J.D. from the University of Connecticut Law School. 

Donna McDurfee was appointed as an examiner to replace Andrew Stein, who resigned from the Board after four years of service. McDurfee has been the Administrative Coordinator of Faculty Affairs at Middlebury College since 1994. She holds an M.S. in law from Champlain College. 

Recent amendments to the Rules of Admission to the Bar of the Vermont Supreme Court include the following changes:

Rule 13(b) was amended to specifically permit concurrent applications for admission by transferred UBE score, meaning that an applicant can apply to sit for the UBE in a UBE jurisdiction other than Vermont and at the same time apply for admission by transferred UBE score to the Vermont Bar although the UBE score has not yet been earned.

Rules 9(b)(1), 11, 12(a), and 13(e) were amended to ensure consistency and clarity with regards to the permitted age of UBE and MPRE scores:

  • Rule 9(b)(1) was amended to clarify that applicants must be active attorneys to waive the five-year limitation specifying that an applicant must sit for the UBE within five years of graduating from law school and that Board approval is not necessary for such a waiver. Also, the amendment to Rule 9(b)(1) allows for an extension to the time limitation for good cause.
  • Rule 11 was amended to clarify that the triggering date for the time limit for the age of the MPRE score is the date the applicant achieves a passing UBE score. Also, the amendment to Rule 11 allows for an extension to the time limitation for good cause.
  • Rule 12(a)(1) was amended to make the time period to take the first-year CLE courses for admittees by examination consistent with the corresponding time period for admittees without examination in Rule 15. The amendment to Rule 12(a)(2) clarifies that for good cause the Board can grant an extension to the time limit for satisfying the first-year mentorship requirement.
  • Rule 13(e) was amended to impose a one-year outer limit for the MPRE score, consistent with the outer limit in Rule 11, and allow for an extension to the time limitation for good cause.

Rule 7(c) was amended to allow all institutions of higher education whose accreditor has been approved by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) to satisfy the law office study educational requirement. The amendment to Rule 7(c) also allows an applicant with an undergraduate degree from a foreign jurisdiction to satisfy the education requirement, provided the applicant can establish that such degree is equivalent to a bachelor’s degree from a DOE-approved institution.

Virginia

Justice Elizabeth A. McClanahan is the new liaison justice to the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners.

Robert E. Glenn, former president of the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners, passed away on October 18, 2018. Glenn served on the Board from 1982 to 2014 and as president from 1993 until his retirement in 2014. 

Stephen A. Isaacs, Director of the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners Character and Fitness Committee since its inception in 1995, received the William R. Rakes Leadership in Education Award from the Virginia State Bar’s Education of Lawyers Section. The award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated exceptional leadership and vision in developing and implementing innovative concepts to improve and enhance the state of legal education, and in advancing relationships and professionalism among members of the academy, the bench, and the bar within the legal profession in Virginia. The award was presented to Isaacs at the Virginia State Bar Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach in June 2018.

The Supreme Court of Virginia has adopted amendments to its Admission Without Examination rule, effective December 1, 2018. Among the amendments are (1) defining “full-time” practice of law as a minimum of 32 hours per week; (2) accepting practice from an office located in a jurisdiction where the applicant is not licensed (including Virginia) as qualifying practice if “the applicant establishes, by satisfactory evidence, that such practice is permitted by statute, rule, court order, or by written confirmation from the admitting or disciplinary authority of the jurisdiction where the practice occurred”; and (3) establishing that for purposes of admission without examination, document review work will ordinarily not constitute the “practice of law.”

Wyoming

Justice Michael K. Davis became Chief Justice of the Wyoming Supreme Court on July 1, 2018. Kari Jo Gray was appointed to the Wyoming Supreme Court on October 9, 2018; Justice Gray has been assigned as the liaison justice to the Wyoming Board of Law Examiners.

The Wyoming Supreme Court has appointed Darci Phillips to serve on the Board of Law Examiners to succeed John Masterson upon the expiration of his term after six years of service. Phillips is an associate with Davis & Canyon LLP in Sheridan, Wyoming, prior to which she worked as a deputy county and prosecuting attorney for Sheridan County, Wyoming. She is a graduate of the University of Wyoming College of Law.

Christopher Hawks has been appointed by the Wyoming Supreme Court to serve as an alternate member of the Board of Law Examiners. Hawks, who is in private practice with Hawks & Associates LC, had previously served on the Board for six years from 2011 to 2017. 

NCBE News

2018–2019 Policy Committees

Two NCBE policy committees have had membership changes since announced in the Fall 2018 Bar Examiner. The updated committee rosters are listed as follows.

Editorial Advisory Committee

  • Margaret Fuller Corneille, Chair
  • Bedford T. Bentley, Jr.
  • Gicine P. Brignola
  • Elizabeth T. Burke
  • Jack Hieb
  • Sherry M. Hieber
  • Sophie S. Martin
  • Suzanne Schmitz

Multistate Bar Examination Committee

  • Franklin R. Harrison, Chair
  • Hon. Rebecca White Berch (Ret.)
  • David R. Boyd
  • Hon. Cynthia L. Martin
  • Robert S. McMillen
  • Anthony R. Simon
  • Hon. Phyllis D. Thompson
  • Timothy Y. Wong

(NCBE Chair Michele A. Gavagni and NCBE President Judith A. Gundersen are ex-officio members of all NCBE committees.)

Noteworthy News

In an August 2018 ruling, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas dismissed claims by an examinee that the National Conference of Bar Examiners violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and a Texas statute in refusing accommodations on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination to the plaintiff, Andrew Glueck. The District Court found that the plaintiff’s evidence did not show that he is substantially limited in his ability to perform major life activities compared to most people in the general population and granted NCBE’s motion for summary judgment. The court also denied a cross-motion for summary judgment that the plaintiff had filed on his claims. Medical reports obtained by the plaintiff, after he had graduated from high school and college without accommodations, reported diagnoses of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and anxiety as well as some difficulties with processing speed and reading comprehension under certain conditions. The evidence also showed that the plaintiff had received additional time on examinations in some graduate school classes and in law school. Notwithstanding these diagnoses and the plaintiff’s history of receiving accommodations in certain other contexts, the court found that the plaintiff had failed to show that he is a disabled person under the ADA, since his medical documentation reflected that he performed in the “low average” range in some areas but largely in the average range or better, and thus that he was not substantially impaired compared to the general population.

This ruling followed a ruling in November 2017 in which the court dismissed claims that the plaintiff had brought in the same lawsuit against the Texas Board of Law Examiners under Titles II and III of the ADA, based upon the Board’s denial of his requests for accommodations on the Texas Bar Examination. The court held in that case that the Texas Board was “entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity from . . . Title II claims alleged under § 12132” of the ADA, and from “Title III claims alleged under § 12189.”

See Andrew J. Glueck v. National Conference of Bar Examiners, 2018 WL 3977891 (W.D. Tex. Aug. 20, 2018) (granting summary judgment in favor of NCBE), and 2017 WL 5147619 (W.D. Tex. Nov. 3, 2017) (dismissing claims against the Texas Board).


 

The Vermont Supreme Court upheld the Vermont Board of Bar Examiners’ decision that an applicant who had an LL.M. degree from an ABA-approved law school but did not have a J.D. (foreign or otherwise) did not meet the Rule 8 requirements of the Vermont Rules of Admission to the Bar. Rule 8(c)(4) allows an applicant with a foreign law degree that is not equivalent to a law degree from an ABA-approved law school to cure that deficiency by obtaining an LL.M. from an ABA-approved law school. The applicant urged the Court to adopt a broad reading of the rule to allow the curing provision to be applicable to everyone with an LL.M. degree applying to sit for the Vermont Bar Exam regardless of legal educational and professional background. The Court agreed with the Board that the cure provision applies only to persons holding a law degree from a foreign jurisdiction.

See In re Ahmed M. Hamid-Ahmed, 2018 WL 4939431, available at https://law.justia.com/cases/vermont/supreme-court/2018/2018-045.html.


 

The Vermont Supreme Court upheld the Vermont Board of Bar Examiners’ decision that, pursuant to Rule 9(b)(4) of the Vermont Rules of Admission to the Bar, an applicant who had passed the Maryland Bar Examination in February 2014 after failing that exam six times previously was not eligible to sit for the February 2018 Vermont Bar Examination due to the number of past exam failures. Rule 9(b)(4) states: “An Applicant who has failed the bar examination four times will not be permitted to sit for the UBE in Vermont. For purposes of this rule, attempts to achieve a passing score on the UBE count toward the limit of four regardless of where the Applicant sat for the UBE.” The applicant contended that the term “bar examination” was ambiguous and referred to the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) only, not to non-UBE bar examinations. Because the bar examinations he attempted in Maryland were not UBE exams, he argued that the rule did not apply to him. The Court found that, according to the plain language, Rule 9(b)(4) does not permit an applicant to sit for the UBE in Vermont after the applicant has failed any state’s bar examination or a combination of states’ bar examinations at least four times and that there is nothing in the rule indicating that the four-attempt restriction applies only to failures to pass UBE exams as opposed to bar examinations generally. The Court also weighed in on the standard of review, holding that the Court has plenary authority to review the Board of Bar Examiners’ decisions interpreting the Rules of Admission.

See In re Jeffrey G. Oden, 2018 WL 5728339, available at https://law.justia.com/cases/vermont/supreme-court/2018/2018-041.html.


 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit reversed a previous award of attorneys’ fees and affirmed the dismissal of claims for monetary damages in a case brought by a plaintiff against the Rhode Island Board of Bar Examiners and its members. The plaintiff, Anthony Sinapi, had sought accommodations on the Rhode Island Bar Examination for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and anxiety. His request had been denied by the Rhode Island Board of Bar Examiners, confirmed by the Rhode Island Supreme Court. Four days before the Rhode Island bar exam in July 2015, Sinapi filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island seeking monetary damages for disability discrimination and a temporary restraining order (TRO) compelling the Board to permit him certain bar exam accommodations. The district court held a hearing the day before the bar exam and granted Sinapi’s motion for a TRO, finding that the balance of harms favored Sinapi. The following day, Sinapi sat for the Rhode Island bar exam with accommodations. When Sinapi’s case proceeded, the Board moved to dismiss and Sinapi did not file any formal opposition to the motion. In ruling on the Board’s motion, the court observed that Sinapi appeared to have “abandoned his claim for injunctive relief in light of the Court’s decision to grant his temporary restraining order.” The court then dismissed the claims for monetary damages based on Eleventh Amendment and ­quasi-judicial immunity. Sinapi filed a motion for attorneys’ fees, asserting that he was a prevailing party based on his successful motion for a TRO. The district court awarded him $20,000 in fees and costs. After cross-appeals to the First Circuit, that court held that the award of attorneys’ fees was unsupported because, although the district court had made the required threshold assessment of a likelihood of success on the merits, the precipitant circumstances had not permitted a thorough examination of the merits prior to the issuance of the TRO and no merits-­based decision was ever entered in Sinapi’s favor, so he could not be considered a “prevailing party.” The court also affirmed the dismissal of the claims for monetary damages.

See Anthony E. Sinapi v. Rhode Island Board of Bar Examiners, 910 F.3d 544 (1st Cir. 2018), available at https://cases.justia.com/federal/appellate-courts/ca1/16-2251/16-2251-2018-12-11.pdf?ts=1544545806.

 

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