While not an agency of the Florida Board of Bar Examiners, FLA has developed a cooperative relationship with the staff of that agency and its members. That relationship includes education of board members regarding chemical and psychological impairments, treatments for the same, development of monitoring and probation protocols which permit admission of applicants with a history of impairment, orientation presentations at the various law schools, and a presentation by a Board member at the annual FLA Workshop in July.
As a result of its acceptance of chemical and psychological impairments as treatable illnesses, the Board was one of the first in the U.S. to permit conditional admissions of applicants with a history of chemical dependency, psychiatric diagnoses, or criminal justice issues resulting from such conditions. The term “conditional admission” has no effect on an attorney’s scope of practice or authority, but only on the probationary terms with which the lawyer must comply for the period set by the Board. Such conditions may include attendance at a specified number of lawyer support or 12 Step meetings, monitoring by another attorney or mental health practitioner, and random urinalysis testing. The order of conditional admission is confidential, and conditional admittees are listed as “members in good standing” upon admission to The Florida Bar.
The key to obtaining a recommendation for conditional admission if a history of chemical or psychological impairment exists is absolute honesty, candor, and completeness when preparing and filing the application for admission, together with a demonstration that the prior condition is being adequately addressed and treated (a relationship with FLA can be crucial in this regard). The Board is attempting to determine who you are based on your personal history, your undergraduate and law school experiences, and your preparation of the application. Demonstrating your present candor and honesty by providing everything on your application, including incidents about which you are embarrassed, or believe may jeopardize your chance of admission, or believe the Board will not discover, provides you with the best chance that a recommendation for a conditional admission will be authorized by the Board. Leaving something off the application in the hope the Board will not discover it (which it is guaranteed they will) makes almost certain that the recommendation will be against admission.
Florida Lawyers Assistance is available to answer your questions regarding the bar application, admissions process, or the conditional admission procedure. FLA also maintains a referral listing of attorneys who specialize in representing applicants before the Board, and who understand and work cooperatively with FLA.
Applicants should be aware that the Florida Board of Bar Examiners has adopted a policy of researching certain applicant’s social sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.). The ABA Journal article announcing this new policy can be found by clicking HERE.
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