Florida Investigative Hearings Attorney
At an Investigative Hearing, three members of the Board of Bar Examiners ask the applicant questions, and the answers are documented by a court reporter.
Some of their questions may seem to “paint you into a corner” with no “right” answer.
Other questions may frustrate you because of the time that’s passed since the incident, or if you think that the incident wasn’t a big deal.
An experienced Florida bar admission attorney can best help you prepare to answer the types of questions you’ll likely hear.
About a week after hearing, the Board can send notice that it recommends your admission. If they hit the “pause” button and do more investigation, and they’ll let you know that’s what they’re doing, too.
In cases involving past alcohol/drug use, the Board can recommend a conditional admission. It allows the practice of law under conditions for a “probationary” period of time, successful completion of which results in the admittance to practice with no restrictions.
Conditional admission can come into play for mental health issues, too. The application asks for disclosure of mood/thought disorders that could potentially affect their ability to practice law, such as schizophrenia, bipolar, and major depression.
This doesn’t mean that someone with those disorders can’t practice law. The Board could offer conditional admission when existing mood/thought disorders are being treated regularly.
Anxiety & Stress
Some applicants worry about reporting counseling they got for anxiety or stress. The Board does not require disclosure of that counseling. Any information about an applicant’s mental health is confidential.
The Board files specifications after an investigative hearing when they feel that they cannot recommend admission at that time.
Specifications can be compared to a “complaint” in civil law, in that the Board lists allegations(s) stating why it can’t recommend admission.
Since an applicant has to formally answer the specifications within a limited amount of time, consulting with an experienced bar admissions attorney can help.
Filing specifications sets in motion some important procedures that the applicant is entitled to, such as a formal hearing, representation by counsel, and exchange of witness and exhibit lists.
Formal hearings are much like a trial. After considering the evidence, the Board usually advises the applicant within a week of its admission recommendation.
In some circumstances, a formal hearing isn’t the best option after specifications are filed. The Board might consider offering a consent agreement, where the Board and applicant agree on a denial. After the denial period concludes, the applicant can consider whether to continue pursuing admission to the Florida Bar. An experienced Bar admissions attorney can advise you about those steps.