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In re Amendments to Rules of Supreme Court Relating to Admissions to Bar

Supreme Court of Florida

November 30, 2017

IN RE: AMENDMENTS TO THE RULES OF THE SUPREME COURT RELATING TO ADMISSIONS TO THE BAR.

         Original Proceeding - Rules of the Supreme Court of Florida Relating to Admissions to the Bar.

          Elizabeth J. Walters, Chair, Scott N. Richardson, Past Chair, Michele A. Gavagni, Executive Director, and James T. Almon, General Counsel, Florida Board of Bar Examiners, Tallahassee, Florida, for Petitioner

          Leticia M. Diaz, Dean, Barry University - Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law, Orlando, Florida; Angela Felecia Epps, Dean, Florida A&M University College of Law, Orlando, Florida; Scott DeVito, Dean, Florida Coastal School of Law, Jacksonville, Florida; Tawia Ansah, Acting Dean, R. Alexander Acosta, Past Dean, Florida International University College of Law, Miami, Florida; Jon M. Garon, Dean, Nova Southeastern University - Shepard Broad College of Law, Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz, Dean, Stetson University College of Law, Gulfport, Florida; Alfredo García, J.D., Dean, St. Thomas University School of Law, Miami Gardens, Florida; Laura Ann Rosenbury, Dean, University of Florida - Fredric G. Levin College of Law, Gainesville, Florida; Patricia D. White, Dean, University of Miami School of Law, Coral Gables, Florida; and Timothy P. Chinaris, Nashville, Tennessee, Responding with Comments

          PER CURIAM.

         This matter is before the Court for consideration of proposed amendments to the Rules of the Supreme Court Relating to Admissions to the Bar. We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 15, Fla. Const.

         BACKGROUND

         The Florida Board of Bar Examiners (Board) has filed a petition to amend the Rules of the Supreme Court Relating to Admissions to the Bar (Rules) 3-14 (Bar Application and Supporting Documentation), 3-23 (Specifications), 4-13.4 (Alternative Method of Educational Qualification), and 4-23.1 (Transfer of Score). After submission to the Court, the proposed amendments were published for comment in The Florida Bar News. The deans of multiple Florida law schools filed a comment supporting the proposed amendments to rule 4-23.1. Florida Bar member, Timothy P. Chinaris, filed a comment supporting the proposed amendments to rules 3-14, 3-23, and 4-23.1.

         Upon consideration of the Board's petition and the comments filed, we adopt the amendments as proposed by the Board.

         AMENDMENTS

         Rule 3-14 (Bar Application and Supporting Documentation)

         In its petition, the Board explains that it is developing an applicant portal to allow all communications between the Board and applicants for admission to The Florida Bar to be done electronically. Thus, under rule 3-14 as amended, in lieu of a notarized paper copy of the bar application, an e-signature is required and the jurat on the application is modified to reflect this. Further, rule 3-14.1 (Filed as an Applicant) and rule 3-14.2 (Filed as a Registrant) are amended to delete the requirement that the bar application be "sworn, " and rule 3-14.1(f) is amended to require, instead of an "affidavit . . . attesting that the applicant has read Chapter 4, Rules of Professional Conduct, and Chapter 5, Rules Regulating Trust Accounts, " an online form "acknowledgement of compliance . . . declaring" the same. The name of this form is changed to "Acknowledgement of Compliance, " and the statement therein is amended to reference an e-signature PIN, rather than notarization. Rule 3-14.3 (Defective Applications) is amended to remove a reference to notarization.

         Rule 3-23 (Specifications)

         Similar to the amendments to rule 3-14, rule 3-23 is amended in order to accommodate electronic communication and submission of documents. Currently, Specifications are served on applicants by certified mail, and a sworn and notarized response, with four copies, is required to be provided to the Board by mail. The Board states that it wishes to allow the service of Specifications by both mail and electronically through the portal. Rule 3-23 is amended to replace the requirement that a response to Specifications be "filed in the form of a sworn, notarized answer, " with the requirement that it be "served in the form of a verified answer." This will allow applicants to serve the answer on the Board through the portal, without having to mail the original to the Board.

         Rule 4-13.4 (Alternative Method of ...


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