Effective October 15, 2019, the Supreme Court of the State of Kansas has adopted Rule 712B, Pro Bono or Low-Cost Legal Services Provided by Retired, Inactive, or Single-Employer Attorneys, as an addition to its Rules Relating to Admission of Attorneys. The new rule permits a not-for-profit provider of legal services or an accredited law school clinic to apply for authorization for a retired or inactive attorney to provide pro bono or low-cost legal services to its clients. An attorney with a restricted license to perform legal services for a single employer in Kansas can also be authorized to provide pro bono services under this rule.
In accordance with Maine Bar Admissions Rule 10(c)(3), the Maine Board of Bar Examiners has lowered the passing scaled score for future bar examinations from 276 to 270. The new passing score of 270 will be effective starting with the February 2020 bar examination.
Effective November 1, 2019, Oregon became the most recent jurisdiction to adopt essential eligibility requirements (EERs) for admission to the practice of law. The Oregon Supreme Court amended the Oregon Rules for Admission to add these EERs, which resulted from a study of the recommendations of the ABA Task Force on Lawyer Wellness by a task force appointed by the Oregon State Board of Bar Examiners. The task force also recommended a number of changes to the character and fitness questions on the Oregon bar exam application, which were adopted. At the same time, the Oregon Supreme Court also approved an amendment to Oregon’s confidentiality rule (RFA 2.15) to allow the Oregon Board of Bar Examiners to share information with NCBE and with law schools, and to participate in NCBE’s Cross-Reference service. The rule amendments also loosened prior perceived restrictions on Oregon’s character and fitness investigators.
West Virginia has revised the character and fitness portion of its application for admission, deleting a question referring to “diagnosis” and focusing only on conduct.
The Colorado Supreme Court has appointed several new members to the Board of Law Examiners’ Character and Fitness Committee: Dr. Robert L. Atwell, Tammy M. Eret, Hon. Terry Fox, Barbara Kelley, Dr. Sandra Thebaud, and Gwyneth Whalen. Porya Mansorian has been appointed vice chair of the Committee, replacing Lorraine Parker, who has served on the Committee since 2012 and will continue to serve as an emeritus member. The Colorado Supreme Court has also appointed Charles Norton as a new member of the Board of Law Examiners’ Law Committee and has appointed Sunita Sharma as chair of that Committee, replacing outgoing chair Richard Nielson, who had served on the Committee since 2003. Anna N. Martinez has been appointed vice chair of the Committee.
The Advisory Committee of the Colorado Supreme Court has created the Admissions Rules Subcommittee to evaluate Colorado’s admissions rules and propose changes. The Subcommittee is chaired by Daniel Vigil; members include Nancy Cohen, Margaret Funk, Marcy Glenn, Anna Martinez, Karen McGovern, Dawn McKnight, Sunita Sharma, David Stark, Jonathan Toronto, and Jessica Yates.
Effective November 1, 2019, David C. Reeves is the new chair of the Florida Board of Bar Examiners and Jane A. Rose is the new vice chair. New members Deborah Lynn Curry, Paul J. Schwiep, and Stanley H. Wakshlag have been added to the Board, replacing Scott L. Baena, Robert D. Shaw, Jr., and Peter L. Wechsler, whose terms of service have expired.
Aasia Mustakeem completed her term as chair of the Georgia Board of Bar Examiners at the end of 2019 and has been appointed to the Georgia Board to Determine Fitness of Bar Applicants. Sally Akins is the new chair of the Board of Bar Examiners, and Richard Sinkfield is the newest member of the Board.
Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady passed away suddenly on November 15, 2019. He had served on the Iowa Supreme Court since 1998 and as chief justice since 2011. He had also previously served on NCBE’s UBE Policy Committee.
Judge Zel Fischer of the Supreme Court of Missouri, who serves as judicial liaison to the Missouri Board of Law Examiners, has been awarded the Theodore McMillian Judicial Excellence Award by the Missouri Bar. The award recognizes jurists who “set an example of judicial excellence by leadership in the advancement of justice, provide outstanding public and community service to the people of Missouri, and who are persons of the highest character, integrity, and honor who inspire other members of the judiciary to similar noble purpose.”
Beth R. Fleishman and Randel E. Phillips completed their many years of dedicated service to the North Carolina Board of Law Examiners in October 2019. At the same time, three new members were appointed to the Board: Shelley Blake Curran, Judge Sherri Elliott, and Michael Greene.
Penny Miller retired as Clerk of the Supreme Court of North Dakota and Secretary-Treasurer of the State Board of Law Examiners at the end of 2019 after serving the Court for over 31 years. Following Miller in both positions is Petra Mandigo Hulm, who had been Chief Deputy Clerk of the Supreme Court since 2010.
On January 6, 2020, Gerald W. VandeWalle, Chief Justice of the North Dakota Supreme Court, passed the gavel to the new chief justice, Jon Jensen. VandeWalle was the longest-serving chief justice in North Dakota history, having served the Court since 1978 and as chief justice since 1993. At 86, he was also the oldest chief justice in the nation. VandeWalle will continue to serve the Court as a justice.
The Ohio Board of Bar Examiners has a new member: Robert G. Sanker, of Keating, Muething & Klekamp, PLL, in Cincinnati.
Todd Daloz and Donna McDurfee have stepped down from the Vermont Board of Bar Examiners. Replacing Daloz is former Associate Examiner Sam Abel-Palmer, who in turn has been replaced by Bessie Weiss. Wright Preston has been appointed to replace McDurfee.
On October 26, 2019, Donald W. Lemons, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia, received the prestigious 2019 American Inns of Court Lewis F. Powell, Jr., Award for Professionalism and Ethics. One of those who nominated Lemons for the award said, “He is a role model in how a judge should conduct himself from the bench. He treats everyone he encounters with respect.”
On November 1, 2019, Stephen M. Quillen retired from the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners after 36 years of service, including serving as president of the Board from 2014 to 2019. The new president of the Board is Anita O. Posten, the first woman to serve in this position. The Supreme Court of Virginia has also appointed Robert V. Ward to the Board and has appointed P. Danielle Stone to Virginia’s Character & Fitness Committee, filling the vacancy created by the resignation of Nancy C. Dickinson-Vicars.
On December 12, 2019, Katherine B. Capito was reappointed to serve a seven-year term on the West Virginia Board of Law Examiners. On January 1, 2020, Hon. Tim Armstead became chief justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals for a one-year term.
Martin L. Hardsocg is the new member of Wyoming’s Character and Fitness Committee, replacing David Delicath, who had served on the Committee for six years.
On January 10, 2019, Elsie-Mae King retired after 29 years of public service, including 20 as Director of Bar Admissions for the Virgin Islands Supreme Court. Until the director position is filled, the interim point of contact for the Office of Bar Admissions will be Janelle Brown, Bar Admissions Analyst.
The Georgia Office of Bar Admissions has moved. Its new physical and mailing address is as follows (all phone numbers and email addresses remain the same):
Office of Bar Admissions
Nathan Deal Judicial Center
330 Capitol Square, SE,
Atlanta, GA 30334
The Maryland State Board of Law Examiners has relocated. Its new address is as follows (all other contact information remains the same):
State Board of Law Examiners
580 Taylor Avenue
Annapolis, MD 21401
On December 13, 2019, Penny Gessler, NCBE’s Director of Investigations, gave a presentation at the New England Consortium of Academic Support Professionals (NECASP) at Vermont Law School in South Royalton, Vermont. Three bar administrators—Marilyn Wellington (MA), Sherry Hieber (NH), and Andrew Strauss (VT)—also participated in the panel, entitled Parity in Applications: Advising Law Students in Differences between Questions on Law School Applications and Bar Character & Fitness Applications. The speakers discussed the different missions of law schools and bar admission authorities, the public purpose of evaluating an applicant’s character and fitness, the necessity of active participation of bar applicants in the character and fitness process, and the importance of honesty in and consistency between law school and bar applications.