NCBE Conference: final session

by Paul Maharg on 22/04/2012

Final session I attended was a discussion session for 0-2 years Bar members and staff, in order to hear the basic issues being raised.  Key points:

  1. Administration issues.  Training of proctors — what we’d call exam invigilators (teachers noted as excellent proctors), and monitoring of proctor performance.
  2. Grading Bar exams — variability in marking.  One state said calibration was the answer, and described the process including grading papers, then coming together and comparing marks.  Consistency drifts with time, so get the papers done as quickly as possible.  Refer back to calibration benchmarks when marking.  One state’s graders used a scorecard, and graded in pairs.
  3. Character & fitness — what weight to give to the sense of someone lying when in interview.  Problematic, but corroboration was essential.  What if person is abrasive, reluctant, unco-operative, rude?  Ask the person: do you know how you’re presenting yourself in this interview?  If the answer is yes, there is one set of questions to be asked.  If no, there is another set of questions.  Good question and approach, because it could be a start of a rehabilitation or at least a corrective process.
  4. Character & fitness — should there not be a test students can take before they attend law school?  One state administrator said her state did this, but the students who were problematic didn’t take advantage of the scheme (as you might expect).  Another state administrator said that there was a problem, in that the students hadn’t yet sat the exam, and for states with large numbers of entrants this could be a lot of extra work.  Anne Lukingbeal’s point about feeding back to law school was important, and recognized as such in this session.  There were confidentiality issues about releasing individual cases, but nevertheless this was an interesting point about making contact with law schools on these issues generally.  In Georgia, it was noted, Deans are invited into Character & Fitness sessions

Good quotes:

  • ‘Lawyers [at C&F interviews] can be a problem.’
  • ‘Bad news doesn’t get any better with time.’

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