NEW JERSEY BOARD OF BAR EXAMINERS AND COMMITTEE ON CHARACTER Mary Patterson, Assistant Secretary Sahbra Smook Jacobs, Counsel to the Committee on Character
New Jersey is now a Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) Jurisdiction The New Jersey Supreme Court adopted the UBE, effective with the February 2017 examination. Two important items to know: • • Applicants will no longer be able to take the exam concurrently in New Jersey and another jurisdiction Applicants will be able to transfer qualifying UBE scores to or from New Jersey to other UBE jurisdictions
Basic Information n n This is an on-line process. Applicants must register on-line by filing out an application and Character and Fitness Questionnaire (CFQ) and submitting it. The following must also be submitted: n Payment n Credit card payment may be made on-line n money order or certified or cashier’s check ONLY if not paying by credit card n Authorization and Release form, SIGNED AND NOTARIZED, uploaded after submitting CFQ Must reads: Instructions, Admission to the Bar Booklet & Regulations Governing the Committee on Character https: //njbarexams. org
Applications are available: • Approximately March 1 st for the July exam • Approximately October 1 st for the February exam Registration for laptop seats will be conducted beginning approximately May 1 st or December 1 st. Check the website for information. Exam Sites: • Hotel Somerset Bridgewater (handwriting and accommodations), • Garden State Exhibit Center (laptop), and • Atlantic City Convention Center (laptop, handwriting and accommodations) • Sites may be subject to change
Application fees July Exam $675 if filed by March 31 $950 if filed by April 15 $1200 if filed by April 30 February Exam $675 if filed by October 31 $950 if filed by November 15 $1200 if filed by November 30 Check website for any changes to deadlines or fees Credit card, certified or cashier’s check or money order only NO APPLICATIONS WILL BE ACCEPTED AFTER THE FINAL DEADLINE INCOMPLETE APPLICATIONS AND APPLICATIONS WITH INCORRECT FEES ARE NOT ACCEPTED *
Laptop Program n n n n The laptop program is open to all applicants An external vendor administers the program APPLICANTS MUST DOWNLOAD SOFTWARE CUSTOMIZED FOR EACH STATE. This software locks the computer during the examination and provides the correct framework for the essay responses. TIMELY registration for the laptop program is currently FREE. The laptop program deadlines are different from the application deadlines and will be posted for each exam. Timely fee is $0, first late is $75, and final deadline is $150. Be sure to complete ALL steps to prepare your laptop for the exam. Software sometimes requires modifications; read all emails from the vendor EVEN IF you’ve successfully completed all of the laptop steps.
Application Tips n n n n Read the instructions carefully. Print an Application Checklist, available on your User Home Page. Proofread your application before submitting. Check your User Home Page periodically for any new information or updates from your case file manager. Keep a copy of everything you upload. Don’t assume anything. Read the FAQ’s on our site, reread the instructions, email or call our office and ask. Application deficiencies typically consist of missing law school certificates or other required standard documents. Deficiency notices will be posted to your User Home Page. Additional supplemental information may be requested by your reviewing attorney.
Required Supplemental Documentation One page Authorization and Release form, signed, notarized and uploaded Note: Until your character questionnaire (CFQ) is submitted, the above document uploaded and payment is made, your application will NOT be acknowledged. n Law school certificate(s) n Fingerprints (each examination) n Driver’s abstract(s) n For attorneys admitted in another state: n Certificate of good standing n Disciplinary history n
Additional “Supplemental” Documentation n n This documentation will vary by applicant. If you have answered “Yes” to any of the CFQ questions, you are REQUIRED to provide additional documentation as noted, such as transcripts, school and court records, police reports, copies of licenses, etc. Additional documentation may be required by your reviewing attorney. This information should be provided promptly to avoid delays in the character review process.
Updating Personal Information or Amending Application • • If you need to change your address or other registration (personal) information, return to your User Home Page, click on Update Personal Info in the upper right hand corner, and be sure to hit the submit button at the bottom of the page. To amend your character responses, select Amend Application (which can only be done after you submit the CFQ), scroll down to the Forms & Progress section on the lower left hand side of the screen, and click on Amend. You may then select the section(s) you wish to amend. Be sure to SUBMIT the amended questionnaire when completed. You may amend as often as necessary.
Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) New Jersey tests on the last Tuesday and Wednesday of February and July. Applicants who sit in New Jersey for both days will earn a portable UBE score. n n Tuesday The Multistate Performance Test (MPT) which consists of 2 questions, will be administered in the 3 hour morning session. The Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) will be administered in the 3 hour afternoon session. There are 6 essay questions covering up to 12 areas of law. n n n Wednesday Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) 100 questions in the morning, 100 in the afternoon 6 Hour exam covering: n Contracts n Constitutional Law n Criminal Law n Evidence n Property n Torts n Civil Procedure Additional information on all components can be found on the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) website www. ncbex. org.
What happens at the exam site? n n n n Usually a line forms long before the doors open Have your admission ticket and ID ready for security Once inside the site, find your assigned seat Your proctor will check your ID, get your signature, and place a wristband on your non-writing arm. When it is time, reading of the instructions will begin. LISTEN CAREFULLY to the instructions. Once the instructions are read and the room is ready, you will be told to begin the exam. The time will be noted and the remaining time will be announced at various intervals during the testing. Clocks are available at the sites. STOP writing/typing/erasing when told to stop. Continuing after being told to stop is a form of cheating and will likely result in the invalidation of your exam.
What to bring to the exam: n n n n n Admission ticket, which is posted to your User Home Page approximately two to three weeks before the exam Government issued photo ID Wallets are permitted but must remain in your pocket or your plastic bag during the exam. Blue or black pens on Tuesday (even if taking on laptop). Highlighters are permitted. #2 pencils on Wednesday Small unwrapped food items, such as cough drops, mints, candies, etc. , in a clear plastic bag no larger than 12” by 12” One CLEAR plastic bottle per session. Beverages must be placed on the floor! Hygiene products LAYERS of clothing. Lunch in a paper bag with your name on it. Lunches will be placed in a designated area outside the testing room.
What NOT to bring to the exam! n n n n n Purses, bags, etc. Hats (religious headwear is permitted) HOODIES are not recommended!!!!! If you don’t want to be cold, bring a sweater or sweatshirt or be prepared to tuck in the hood. If you do not want to tuck in the hood, you will either have to leave the hoodie elsewhere or you can cut off the hood. Bar review course study materials (make sure to remove from laptop!) Liquid paper or erasable ink Electronic devices. This means cell phones too! Weapons of any kind Coats (can be left in a designated area but cannot come into the testing room) Ear plugs (they will be provided)
Testing Accommodations n n n Applicants may request accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The testing accommodations application can be downloaded from the website. Applications must be submitted no later than November 30 th for the February exam and April 30 th for the July exam. All supporting documentation must be included. Once a request for an accommodation is received, it is sent to an outside consultant for evaluation. Depending on the condition and the age of medical documentation, additional information may be required. Applicants have 10 days to appeal denied accommodation requests.
Medical Alert Notice & Site Seating Requests n n n Complete the form for these requests found on the website (under “Exam forms”) Use the form to notify the Board of Bar Examiners of: A specific medical condition that may require medical attention; The need to bring items into the exam room that are USUALLY PROHIBITED but are REQUIRED DUE TO A MEDICAL CONDITION; The need to have special seating due to a documented medical condition. The form must be filed for each examination and faxed to the BBE’s offices at 609 -815 -2913 NO LATER THAN ONE WEEK PRIOR TO THE EXAM. You will be notified if the request is DENIED. Otherwise, check with Security on the day of the exam.
Grading the Bar Examination n n Applicants need a final combined score of 266 to pass. The score is weighted 30% essays, 20% MPT and 50% MBE. NJ has three phases of grading. All applicants whose initial combined total score (referred to as Phase I) ranges from 260. 0 to 271. 9 are automatically re-graded. Applicants whose initial combined score falls below 260. 0 fail without further review and applicants scoring 272. 0 or higher pass without further review. All scores are final; appeals are not permitted. Results are typically released in mid-November and mid. May.
Release of Results An applicant will receive one of four types of notification once grades are released: n n Pass and ready for admission Pass, not eligible to be sworn in, typically due to: n Missing certified driver’s abstract from each jurisdiction in which had license in last 7 years n Missing Disciplinary history (if admitted in another jurisdiction) n Fingerprinting not completed n Not certified by Committee on Character member due to nonresponsiveness, missing documentation or failure to update address n Serious issue(s) requiring further investigation and/or a hearing Fail Hold (the applicant will not know if s/he passed!) indicates that your law school certificate has not been submitted
NOTE: Until a Pass and Ready letter is posted to your User Home Page, you MAY NOT be sworn in.
Character Certification Process n In order to be admitted, candidate must pass examination and be certified by the Committee on Character and Fitness. n n n Complete and submit your Certified Statement of Character questionnaire and required documents; proofread submission and keep a copy. Be candid. It is worse to conceal than to disclose bad conduct. Be thorough in your disclosures. Make sure to describe the wrongful conduct (a procedural narrative is not enough!). ERR ON THE SIDE OF DISCLOSURE!!!! Submit required documentation (academic records, pleadings, police records, driver’s abstract, etc. ). Respond promptly and courteously to any requests for additional information needed from you. UPDATE, UPDATE!!!!! (until admission)
Committee on Character Process n n The proceedings and reports of the COC are confidential (RG 401: 1) One of over 50 volunteer New Jersey attorneys from the Committee on Character will review your CFQ and documents. The Committee member may request additional documentation by letter, e-mail or telephone call, and may require a meeting to discuss issues. Depending on the severity and recentness of the issues, a hearing may be required.
Types of Additional Documentation that may be required from a candidate n n n Transcript and school records (academic and disciplinary) for any issue in school Police records AND court disposition records DD-214 and Military records Good standing forms/status check for each license Proof of payment plans, payments of debts and satisfaction of judgments and liens Copy of bankruptcy petition with schedules and Order of Discharge
Types of Additional Documentation that may be required (continued) n n n n Pleadings Certificates of formation & dissolution for businesses Restoration notices for suspension of driver’s license Character/bar application to another state and hearing file, if applicable Proof of completion of community service or probationary terms Name change orders Passport and visa documentation Expungement Petition and Order
Issues of Concern to the Committee on Character Nondisclosure of information n Academic dishonesty n Arrests, whether resulting in conviction, dismissal or expungement n Failure to timely file required federal, state, or local tax returns or to pay tax obligations n Financial misrepresentation, mismanagement, irresponsibility or neglect n Default or arrearages in student loans n Allegations of fraud, perjury or false swearing n Misconduct in employment n
Issues of Concern to the Committee on Character (continued) n n n n Evidence of moral turpitude Having been disciplined as a member of a profession, trade or occupation, including but not limited to the practice of law Failure to comply with Court orders, such as support and alimony orders Domestic violence Abuse of legal process or history of vexatious law suits Current substance abuse Evidence of psychotic disorders that may affect the candidate’s ability to practice law in a competent, ethical or professional manner
Issues of Concern to the Committee on Character (continued) n n n Misconduct during a bar examination Investigation and/or determination of unauthorized practice of law The making of false statements or omitting material information in connection with an application to sit for a bar examination Denial of admission to the bar in another jurisdiction Acts that demonstrate disregard for the rights or welfare of others; and Any other conduct or condition which reflects adversely on moral character or fitness of the candidate to practice law
Character Hearing Process n n Letters are sent to candidates whose files require further investigation and may result in a hearing. Hearings are conducted by a 3 member panel and a staff attorney. After a hearing, the panel issues a written report and recommendation to the Supreme Court. Recommendations include: n n certify for admission certify with conditions (conditions confidential to public) withhold admission The Supreme Court makes the decision on admission after hearing.
Application Process Summary n n n n Submit a timely application and required documents Some documents cannot be quickly obtained but must be submitted as soon as they are available Check the website for updates Complete the fingerprinting process before the exam Update the COC in a timely manner upon the change of ANY section (Continuing duty to timely amend) including addresses, employment, arrests and status of admission to another state. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL MOTOR VEHICLE OR CRIMINAL CHARGES ARE RESOLVED TO AMEND; DUTY TO AMEND WITHIN 30 DAYS!!! Site assignments will be posted on your User Home Page in early February or July, 2 to 3 weeks before the exam Respond promptly, fully and courteously to COC inquiries. Failure to respond may result in the abandonment of your application. Failure to cooperate may be grounds to withhold admission. Update mailing address, especially after taking the exam
Thank you! Website: https: //njbarexams. org Email: bar. mailbox@judiciary. state. nj. us Case file manager assignments Last name begins with: GENERAL NUMBER: 609 -815 -2911 n A, E through J- Jennifer Miranda @Extension 52281 n B, O through R- Sandy Sanford @Extension 52286 n C, K through N- Maureen Notaroberto @Extension 52283 n D, S through Z- Giselle Simeon @Extension 52287