Florida Bar Grievance Committee Information


BOARD OF BAR EXAMINER HEARINGS


In the event you are invited to a hearing you will receive a Notice to Appear for Investigative Hearing. The board members sometimes call this the “Call Letter” because you are being called to appear and testify before the board about your background issues that call into account your character and fitness.

There are two levels of hearings. The first is an investigative hearing and the second is a formal hearing.

THE INVESTIGATIVE HEARING


The investigative panel is usually comprised of the 3 board members. The panels are made up of lawyers and non- lawyers. Some of the panel members are current members of the board and others are emeritus members. The emeritus members are panel members that were previously current members whose term ended who volunteer to serve on the panels as needed. The investigative hearings are held throughout the state. The most common places that the Board of Bar Examiners meet are Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, and Coral Gables.

The Board usually meets in hotels and uses hotel rooms and conference rooms for the hearings. In the hearing room there is a court reporter that transcribes the proceedings. As an applicant you will be sworn in before testifying. If you retain counsel your attorney will be present with you during the hearing. Each of the panel members will have an opportunity to ask you questions. At the conclusion of the Board’s questioning you will have an opportunity to make a statement or to call witnesses. Bringing witnesses to the investigative hearing is rarely done.

At the conclusion of the investigative hearing the panel will make a recommendation to the full Board. You will not be permitted to remain in the room while the panel deliberates. If the Board finds there is no evidence to disqualify you then you will be given a clearance letter. If you have already passed the bar exam you will be provided with an Oath of Admission. Notification is sent to you or your attorney within about 7 days after the hearing. If the Board found your character to be disqualifying then the Board will direct General Counsel to file charges or Specifications against you.

THE FORMAL HEARING PROCESS


You will first be notified that the investigative hearing panel found your conduct to be disqualifying in nature and will file specifications. You will then be asked to pay for the transcript from the investigative hearing so that the Office of General Counsel can prepare the specifications. After the transcript has been transcribed the Office of General Counsel will serve the specifications and you are required to file an Answer and Affirmative Defenses within 20 days.

Thereafter the parties engage in discovery including Witness and Exhibit Lists as well as taking any depositions that are necessary. After the discovery is completed the formal hearing is scheduled. The locations are the same as above and these hearings are held simultaneously as the investigative hearings. The formal hearing process can easily take from 6 months to a year to proceed to the formal hearing. At the conclusion of the formal hearing the Board will either recommend clearance or admission (if you have already passed the Bar Examination) or denial.


HIRING AN ATTORNEY

 

REQUEST INFORMATION / ASK A QUESTION

Before moving forward with the next stages of the Florida Bar Grievance Committee hearings, you need to know when to bring in attorney.

The best time to retain an attorney in a grievance matter is when you first receive The Florida Bar complaint letter. These are time sensitive matters and must be answered. You can be disciplined for not timely responding to a grievance.

If you do not answer the initial complaint you can be suspended. Some lawyers file the initial response themselves, and do not retain an attorney until their case is forwarded to a grievance committee. By this time you may have already incriminated yourself or failed to address issues that are critical to the Bar Prosecutor. You may react with emotion as it is gut wrenching to receive a grievance.

Hiring an attorney who has reviewed hundreds of complaints brings a different perspective. Especially one like myself who also reviewed them as a Bar Prosecutor. Delay may cause you irreparable harm.

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