This article originally appeared in The Bar Examiner print edition, Winter 2022–2023 (Vol. 91, No. 4), pp. 1–2. By Timothy Y. Wong
As we move from autumn to winter, I send warm greetings from chilly Minnesota.
A wonderful thing about serving as NCBE chair is the chance to gain more exposure to the people, processes, and organizations behind bar admissions. Not only can the chair learn more about the work of NCBE, but there is also an opportunity for more interaction with other organizations interested in and involved with the bar admissions process. In my first three months as chair, I have had the opportunity to attend conferences that reinforced the important role of bar admissions as one part of the legal regulatory process, which has allowed me to see firsthand the talent and collaboration of those who are involved in bar admissions.
In October, I attended the International Conference of Legal Regulators, held in Chicago this year. The conference included people in the legal regulatory field from across the world. The presentations included a session on lawyer licensing (moderated by NCBE president Judy Gundersen), and the conference addressed other legal regulatory issues—ethics, the impact of new technologies on the regulation of legal services, balancing legal regulation with access to justice, cybersecurity, attorney wellness, anti–money laundering efforts, and alternative legal business models (moderated by NCBE Board member and Arizona Supreme Court Vice Chief Justice Ann Timmer).
One of the striking things I took from the conference is that the legal profession everywhere is addressing challenges such as access to justice, attorney mental health and substance abuse, and changes to the profession brought on by technology. The conference was also a healthy reminder that the bar admissions process is a specific but important part of the attorney regulatory spectrum—one that has a downstream impact on issues that span the profession.
In November, I attended my first Council of Bar Admission Administrators (CBAA) fall meeting, in Salt Lake City. It was impressive and inspiring to listen to bar administrators from across the country discussing common issues and challenges, sharing ideas, and offering each other support. Diversity in the profession, technology changes, character and fitness issues, and testing accommodations were common subjects for discussion. The meeting also included a very informative and timely presentation on change management and transitions—something all of us involved in the bar admissions world have had to and will continue to navigate. Overall, the meeting provided a rich opportunity for administrators from multiple jurisdictions to benchmark, network, and collaborate.
The meeting also provided a forum for discussion and updates on the next generation of the bar exam. There was great interest in and support for the work being done on the new exam, and good feedback from administrators. NCBE encouraged attendees to stay engaged and to keep communicating their ideas and questions. Jurisdiction administrators and Courts have always taken that to heart—by early 2023, NCBE staff will have visited over 20 jurisdictions to speak with Courts, administrators, and bar examiners. That is in addition to presenting at various conferences, such as those held by AccessLex, the Association of American Law Schools, and the University of Minnesota Law Review.
As I’ve met with NCBE’s stakeholders across the country, I’ve been reminded that there are so many dedicated and talented people working on bar admissions. It also reminded me that we are part of the larger legal practice universe that sustains and supports our profession, fulfills our commitment to self-regulate in a responsible manner, and most importantly, provides legal services while ensuring public protection.
Thank you for all you do, and thank you for the privilege of working with you as part of this mission.
Best wishes to all,
Timothy Y. Wong
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