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Hall to lead Florida Board of Bar Examiners.

Evaluating the validity of the Florida bar exam as a measurement tool for Bar applicants and expediting background investigations are the goals Gloretta H. Hall has set for her year as chair of the Florida Board of Bar Examiners.

Hall, who replaced outgoing Chair Michael J. Keane and is the first African-American woman to chair the board, assumed her new duties in October. The Supreme Court also has appointed Alexander Caballero, Frank Nussbaum, and Joan Panchal to the board, and the board elected Paul J. Schwiep to serve as the FBBE vice chair.

Hall--who practices with Gary, Williams, Parenti, et al., in Stuart--said she plans to complete an assessment or evaluation of the validity and reliability of the bar exam as a measurement tool for Bar applicants.

"We would like to take a look at the bar examination itself to be sure that it accurately and comprehensively measures minimum academic knowledge for students coming out," Hall said. "It has been a very long time since the entire exam has been looked at. You need that to make sure you are giving an accurate test and not just relying on tradition."

Hall said this new study will look more at the test itself than the 1999 review of the current test's passing standard, which the Supreme Court used as an impetus to raise the pass/fail line from 131 to 133 last March. The passing standard will be raised again to 136 in March 2004.

Hall said there is an assortment of ways to conduct bar exams, including the use of practicums, where the students are given a legal project to complete as a part of the examination. That approach is used by bar examiners in other states, and is often used to test the skills of those entering health care fields, she said. As an example, Hall said, medical school graduates may be given a patient and told to do a physical examination of the neurologic system as part of the exam process.

"But there is nothing in the bar examination which has a practicum component," said Hall, who earned a nursing degree at Florida Atlantic University before getting her JD from the University of Miami School of Law. "It is all essay or objective tests."

Hall said she also will continue to protect the public and safeguard the judiciary by implementing the Rules of the Supreme Court Relating to Admissions to the Bar, while striving to accelerate the background investigations processing of Bar applicants.

Hall said it now takes about 135 days for the board to process an applicant and she will continue to work to expedite the process. Hall said the character and fitness review of applicants takes up 60 percent of the FBBE activities.

"You want to be sure the people not only have the academic ability to practice law, but the requisite character and fitness," Hall said, adding one way to speed the review is to get the students to start the process sooner in their law school careers.

"Each one of us goes to law schools at least once a year to tell students firsthand to do that," Hall said, adding that if the character and fitness review is completed by the time a student graduates "then it is just a matter of sitting for and passing the exam, and you are admitted."

Hall also said if a problem arises, it can be identified and addressed while the student is still in school, preventing a graduate from delaying the start of her career. It also costs less to start the process early.

"As you get closer to the exam, the fees get higher because it creates a hurry-up offense on the part of the bar examiners to get you processed," Hall said.

Hall said she was introduced to bar examiner work by Jacksonville lawyer Noel Lawrence, a friend who served on the FBBE and encouraged her to apply for an opening. Since her appointment, Hall said she has a newfound appreciation for the job.

"I, like a lot of people, thought it was a bunch of people behind a wall harassing people trying to get in," Hall said with a laugh, noting board members put in between 300 to 400 hours of volunteer service a year. "Being on the other side of it is a wonderful opportunity to try to do a service for the legal consuming public and for all citizens of Florida."

Hall also said she is "especially proud" to be the first African American woman to hold the position of chair.

"It is amazing to me that there never has been one since the board was created back in 1955, but although I am the first I can tell you I certainly hope that I am not the last," Hall said.

Hall was born in Louisville, Georgia, and grew up in West Palm Beach. She was admitted to the Bar in 1991, and also is a member of the ABA, the Virgil Hawkins Florida Chapter of the National Bar Association, Palm Beach County Bar Association, the Martin County Bar Association, and the Florida Academy of Trial Lawyers.

Schwiep

Paul Schwiep of Aragon, Burlington, Well, Schwiep, Kaplan & Blonsky, Miami, was elected to the position of vice chair by his fellow board members. His term of office began November 1, and will extend through October 31, 2004, when he will become chair.

Schwiep was born in New York, New York. He attended Abilene Christian University where he received his undergraduate degree, and University of Oregon School of Law. Thereafter, he served as a law clerk to Judge Ted Milburn, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He was admitted to The Florida Bar in 1989, and is a member of the Federal Bar Association and the ABA.

Nussbaum

Frank Nussbaum of Sinclair, Louis, Heath, Nussbaum, & Zavertnik, Miami, was appointed to the board by the Supreme Court to succeed retiring member Allan C. Peter Brandt of Ft. Lauderdale. His term of office will extend through October 31, 2008.

Nussbaum was born in Shanghai, China. He attended the University of Miami where he received his undergraduate degree, his J.D., and a LL.M in international law. He was admitted to The Florida Bar in 1965.

Caballero

The court also appointed Alexander Caballero of Sessums Mason & Black, Tampa, to the board to succeed retiring member Noel C. Lawrence of Jacksonville. His term will extend through October 31, 2008.

Caballero was born in Tampa, attended the University of South Florida where he received his undergraduate degree in psychology and criminology, and Florida State University College of Law. He was admitted to the Bar in 1993.

Panchal

Dr. Joan Panchal of Winter Park also has been appointed to the board, succeeding retiring member Dr. Larry C. Carey of Tampa. Her term of office will extend through October 31, 2006.

Dr. Panchal was born in Pittsburgh and attended Pennsylvania State University where she received her undergraduate degree in nursing. She also has a masters degree in Public Health Nursing, and a Ph.D in higher education administration. Both degrees are also from the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Panchal resides in Winter Park.
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Author:Killian, Mark D.
Publication:Florida Bar News
Date:Dec 1, 2003
Words:1195
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