Informal Panel Hearings
Informal Panel Hearings are conducted before two or three members of the Board of Law Examiners. Each hearing is set in the morning or afternoon session, typically with 5-6 other applicants. Cases are called in the order noted in your notice of hearing. Although the hearings are informal, your testimony will be recorded for potential future reference. The Board generally allots about 30 minutes per hearing on average, but hearing times vary significantly among applicants, depending on the nature and number of issues involved.
The Board members will question you about the items listed in your notice of hearing and possibly other matters. You will have an opportunity to offer additional evidence and information. If you are represented by counsel, he or she will have a chance to ask you follow up questions and make closing remarks. The Board does not have its counsel representing it at panel hearings, unlike in formal hearings. The panel will not announce its decision on that day but generally attempts to do so within two weeks of the hearing date.
The panel has four main options:
- Approve your application on character and fitness grounds,
- Defer your application and request additional information or documentation,
- Refer your application to the full Board for a formal hearing, or
- Deny your application but this denial can be appealed as a matter of right to the full Board for a formal hearing.
Any result other than an approval often results in a significant delay in the Board reaching a final decision on your application and potential admission.
You may be wondering how our firm could help you at the informal hearing. Here are several ways we can assist, represent or defend you in informal panel hearings based on our experience in these matters:
- Assist you in preparing for the likely questions from the panel and in presenting the facts in the most favorable light;
- Anticipate evidence and information that the panel may request at the hearing and thereby possibly avoid a deferral and corresponding delay;
- Suggest other potential evidence and information about the listed issues and your general character and fitness;
- Identify other potential issues and attempt to address and prepare you for potential inquiries in those areas;
- Present arguments on your behalf or explain how to present them in the brief time permitted; and
- Lower your anxiety by helping you through an unfamiliar and unnerving process.
Information about our firm’s three-tiered fee structure for panel hearings and other informal procedures is set forth in our general section on Law Examiners.