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Preparing for the Bar

Florida

Bar admission is outlined by the Florida Board of Bar Examiners (FBBE) as follows:

  • Educational Qualification—a J.D. degree from an ABA-accredited law school
  • Technical Competence—successful completion of the General Bar Examination, consisting of Part A – Florida-prepared Examination, Part B – the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE). and the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE)
  • Proof of Character and Fitness—satisfactory evidence of good moral character, an adequate knowledge of the standards and ideals of the profession, and proof that the applicant is otherwise fit to take the oath and perform the obligations and responsibilities of an attorney.

Earning your J.D. from NSU Shepard Broad College of Law satisfies the Educational Qualification.

The Florida Bar Examination is a two-day test offered twice a year, in February and July, in Tampa, Florida. The MPRE is a two-hour exam administered three times a year across the country and may be taken before the Florida Bar Examination.

Because the majority of NSU Shepard Broad College of Law graduates seek admission to the Florida Bar, there is a great deal of assistance in preparing for the bar examination. The Critical Skills Program provides drills for bar exam questions in the final year and our Florida Bar Auxiliary Program provides mentors to guide you, advise you, and keep you on track. The faculty and administration of the Law Center are also committed to helping each student with the Character and Fitness process.

Other Jurisdictions

Admission to practice is governed by each state or jurisdiction. While there are some commonalities and similarities to bar admission across jurisdictions, the processes and costs vary. Students who believe that they will seek admission to practice outside of Florida should consult with the bar authorities of their jurisdiction(s) of choice.

A good source of information about bar admission requirements is the Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements, a publication of the National Conference of Bar Examiners and American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar. This publication includes a Directory of State Bar Admission Agencies to help you research the requirements for any jurisdiction(s) you are considering seeking admission to practice.

It is worth noting that Florida does not have reciprocity with any other jurisdiction. This means there is no variance in the admission process for an attorney admitted elsewhere. Other jurisdictions may have a modified or shortened admission process for an attorney admitted to practice in Florida.

The information that you provide NSU Shepard Broad College of Law on the application for admission must match the information that you later provide bar authorities on your application for admission to the bar. Although our applications asks fewer questions than the bar application, your answers to our questions must be:

  • Complete
  • Accurate
  • Thorough

Full disclosure is not only in your best interest, it is a requirement.

Review your application for J.D. admission using your LSAC account. Make sure that you have provided complete, accurate, and thorough information for the character and fitness questions. It is possible that you:

  • May have misinterpreted a question and omitted a disclosure as a result
  • May have determined incorrectly that a particular matter does not fit the criteria outlined
  • May have relied upon incorrect advice in deciding not to disclose something from your past
  • May have omitted information because you feared it would prevent being offered admission

What the Questions Mean

The NSU Shepard Broad College of Law application for J.D. admission asks specific questions pertaining to character and fitness in four general categories:

  • Academic
  • Conduct
  • Legal
  • Licensure

Academic
These five questions seek to learn if you were subjected to any academic actions in postsecondary studies. These actions include academic warning, academic probation, academic suspension or dismissal, requests for you to discontinue your studies for academic reasons, or being dropped, expelled or required to withdraw for academic reasons. Such actions usually appear on transcripts, though not always. Terms used may vary by institution.

Conduct
These four questions pertain to honor code or student conduct violations in postsecondary schools.

  • Question 6 seeks to know of accusations even if a finding of guilt or responsibility was not made.
  • Question 7 solicits information on warning or probation for conduct reasons.
  • Question 8 seeks information on conduct issues resulting in being dropped, expelled, suspended, being required to withdraw, or other discipline not specifically cited in the question.
  • Question 9 addresses conduct issues that caused a school to request or advise you to withdraw.

Such actions are generally not on transcripts and may require consultation with prior institutions’ student affairs or deans’ offices.

Legal
These four questions seek information about criminal offenses and violations, not civil actions. Each question is rather specific in what it seeks, but there are some common misconceptions that have caused students to make errors and not disclose required matters. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Believing a matter is not covered by our questions
  • Believing you do not have to indicate a matter that was sealed or expunged—you do have to answer “yes” to question 10 but then have the option of either fully disclosing a sealed or expunged matter or providing us with a copy of the court order sealing or expunging it
  • Uncertainty about the terms “offense,” “violation,” “charge,” and “citation” or other terms used in reference to these four questions
  • Having been told by counsel, police, judges, parents, or others that “it is like it never happened.”

Licensure
This question seeks information about disciplinary action or license revocation or suspension of a license administered by a professional board or agency. Matters such as loss of a financial services series license for violations of regulations or ethics, loss of a medical license for improper prescriptions, or revocation of a real estate broker license for financial malfeasance are examples. This does not refer to employment discipline or job termination unless related to a professional ethics violation.

If you have questions about whether something not included on your application needs to be disclosed or you need help parsing the questions and understanding what information must be disclosed, please contact us. We want to assist you in making sure your bar application process is smoothed by proper disclosures on your J.D. application.

Other Relevant Application Questions

In addition to the questions in the Character and Fitness section of the J.D. application, there are other parts of the application where mistakes are made that can cause problems with bar admission later on.

Education
This section requires you to list ALL educational institutions attended beginning with your secondary school (high school). Even if courses from a college appear on another school’s transcript, attendance at the school must be reported on the application. Concurrent enrollment at a college or university while in high school must be reported. Schools from which you withdrew or from which you were dismissed must be reported. Schools where you enrolled but did not earn credit must be reported. Prior enrollment at a law school, for any period of time, must be reported.

Resume
The J.D. application requires that a resume that includes relevant employment, leadership, honors, and volunteer and community service be included. Errors in employment or service, misrepresentations of job titles or duties, errors in dates, erroneous claims of awards or certifications are all problematic and must be corrected quickly.

Personal Statement
Misrepresentations of facts, false claims, and fabrications are problems, especially when bar authorities can find facts or evidence that is contradictory. Anything in your personal statement or any supplement provided in your application that is not accurate will need to be addressed and corrected early

Fixing Errors or Omissions

Take time this summer to review your application, ask questions, and determine whether you need to clarify any disclosures already made or disclose matters not presented in your application for admission. If you determine that additional information or additional disclosures are necessary, prepare an application addendum as follows:

  • Write your addendum to include the following information:
    • Your name and the date of the addendum
    • The date for each matter involved
    • The relevant facts for each matter
    • The process of each matter, including the resolution
    • A statement explaining why you did not include this disclosure in your original application for J.D. admission.
  • Send it to William D. Perez, Assistant Dean for Admissions, at wperez1@nova.edu.

An addendum should be completed and submitted well before the start of the academic year.
In most cases these addenda do not impact one’s admission status to the College of Law. Each addendum will be reviewed with the application and the admissions committee may determine that the nature of the new information may warrant action on their part, which may include revocation of admission.

Continuing Obligation to Disclose

Every applicant must report to the College of Law any such events that occur after filing his/her application for J.D. admission. The disclosure obligation is a continuing one equally applicable to such events that may occur after a student is enrolled at NSU Shepard Broad College of Law. The admissions committee and the NSU Law administration will consider new information submitted and, in appropriate circumstances, may change the status of an applicant or student.

The Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements, a publication of the National Conference of Bar Examiners and American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar, will give you links to determine the timeline and access bar applications for each jurisdiction you intend to apply. A separate application is required for each jurisdiction.

Florida Timeline

NSU Law students are encouraged to complete the Bar Application before January 15 of their first year of law study to take advantage of the lowest fee and to initiate the character and fitness process to receive Certified Legal Internship (CLI) clearance before the clinical/field placement year. You should wait until the academic year begins and you should attend the Critical Skills Program’s bar application workshop in September before you begin the actual application process.

The Bar Application is a lengthy and detailed application that requires you to be thorough, accurate, and complete. Given the clear benefits of applying during your first year, you should take some time this summer to gather as much of the information you will need for the application. This will ease your completion of the application before you begin to adjust to the rigors of law study.

Read, print, and use the Checklist located on the navigation link to assist you with identifying needed information and documents and tracking your completion of gathering the information and documents.

  • Residence Information: You will need dates and complete addresses for the past three years and dates and city/state for each place you have lived since your 16th birthday. Start making a list. Check rent receipts and copies of leases. Consult with family members, close friends and former roommates to get a complete and accurate list.
  • Information on Schools: You will need the names and addresses of all schools attended, including law schools, and the dates of your attendance. Begin your list and consult with transcripts and school websites for the details required.
  • Employment Information: You will need to provide information on employment for the past ten years or since your 16th birthday, whichever is shorter. Information needed includes employers’ names, addresses, dates employed, type of business, supervisor and reason for leaving. Include self-employment or association with any occupation, business, enterprise or profession, either part-time or full-time. Include employment as a law clerk, include positions in clinics, internships, externships, or similar non-paid positions. Most people find it easiest to acquire a Social Security Statement from the U.S. Social Security Administration. The statement should list all of your jobs. You can set up an online account at http://www.ssa.gov/onlineservices/ and request the Statement.
  • Driving record: Your driving record (abstract) can be obtained from the motor vehicles division of each jurisdiction in which you have held a driver license. For Florida, it is Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles division at http://www.flhsmv.gov/ddl/abstract.html.
  • Criminal, Legal, and Violation Information: You will need information about all arrests, charges or accusations (including traffic violations) reporting dates, law enforcement agency, explanation of event and final disposition. If your arrest records are sealed, you must petition the appropriate court to unseal those records. With the possible exception of driving infractions, most people remember being arrested or charged. Your best source of information is records from the court or your attorney. Family members, particularly parents, can be helpful in recalling important details like location and dates to assist you in getting this information. Your driving record (abstract) can be obtained from the motor vehicles division of each jurisdiction in which you have held a driver license. For Florida, it is Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles division at http://www.flhsmv.gov/ddl/abstract.html.
  • Financial records: You will need information about delinquent credit, unfiled tax returns, checks returned for insufficient funds and delinquent student loans. The Bar Application requires completion of a financial affidavit which details your income, expenses, and assets. You may find it useful to examine your credit report for accuracy and clear up any misinformation or discrepancies. Further, you may benefit from checking your copies of loan applications (mortgage, car note, etc.) for accuracy and clear up any errors or discrepancies. The Board of Bar Examiners may request that you authorize the Internal Revenue Service to provide a free transcript of IRS tax returns.
  • Transcripts: You will need to provide the Bar Examiners with transcripts from all undergraduate schools from which you received an undergraduate degree and transcripts from all law school attended (except for NSU Law) even if the credit was transferred to another school or is reflected on another school’s transcript, and transcripts for any postsecondary schools attended subsequent to law school. You must request that all transcripts be sent from each educational institution directly to the board’s office and provide a copy of each transcript request with your bar application.
  • Veterans and Military Personnel: You will need a copy of your DD-214 reflecting your character of service and re-entry code.
  • Lawsuit Defendant or Counter-Defendant: For lawsuits in which you are personally named a defendant or counter-defendant, you will need to include an exact and complete copy of the complaint or other initial pleading, answer, counterclaim, if any, and the disposition of each action, or a letter from the court verifying that the documents are not available.
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