The mission of the Florida Board of Bar Examiners (FBBE) is to protect the public and safeguard the judicial system. Among its responsibilities under the Rules, the FBBE must prepare and administer the General Bar Examination (the “Examination”), which occurs twice each year. The purpose of the Examination is to ensure that all who are admitted to The Florida Bar have demonstrated minimum technical competence. FBBE is conducting a comprehensive review of the subjects and format of the Florida Bar Examination. As part of that review, FBBE is conducting a comprehensive practice analysis study to determine the knowledge, skills, and abilities that are critical for newly licensed Florida attorneys to have at the time of admission to The Florida Bar.
What is a Practice Analysis?
A practice analysis study is a critical step in ensuring the validity of the bar exam. Validity refers to the extent to which scores on a test are interpreted and used as intended (American Educational Research Association, et al., 2014). When tests are used for the purpose of licensure, scores are meant to indicate competence in practicing the profession (Kane, 1982).
FBBE’s practice analysis identifies broad areas of responsibility that attorneys are expected to have across the range of settings and areas of practice. It also identifies a number of subject areas that attorneys need to be knowledgeable in as they enter the profession. The study seeks to develop an empirical understanding of the common activities that attorneys perform and what they must know as they practice early in their career. The study will assist with decisions about the future of the bar exam in Florida.
Why is FBBE Completing a Practice Analysis?
It is important to conduct periodic review of the bar exam to ensure validity. The purpose of the Florida Bar Examination is to distinguish between candidates who are at least minimally competent to enter the profession from those who are not minimally competent. Job-related knowledge, skills, and abilities of an entry-level attorney are used to define the content of the examination and link it to its intended purpose. This is the first comprehensive review of the structure and content of the Florida Bar Examination since 2008, when the Florida Supreme Court appointed a Testing Commission to study the exam.
There are significant changes coming to the bar exam. Earlier this year, the National Conference of Bar Examiners announced that it will replace the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) and its other current test components with a fully redesigned exam. The MBE has been part of the Florida Bar Examination since 1972. Florida’s study, which began in January 2020, will assess what exam changes will help ensure the competence of newly licensed lawyers as they serve the public and the judicial system.
What Steps has Florida Taken so far in the Practice Analysis?
In 2020, the FBBE contracted with Scantron Assessment Solutions to assist with a comprehensive practice analysis study. Scantron has psychometric expertise and years of experience in conducting practice analysis studies, including a recent practice analysis for the California Bar.
In March 2020, the FBBE began accepting applications to become a member of the Practice Analysis Panel. The panel was tasked with identifying what a newly-licensed Florida attorney should be expected to know and do. The study has involved a diverse panel of judges, Bar members, and law faculty. The final panel membership included Judge Katherine Floyd of Gainesville; Judge James McCune of Ocala; Althea Campbell of Coral Springs; Christine Cerniglia of Gulfport; Kristen Corpion of Miami; Iris Elijah of Miami; Shannan Field of Titusville; H. Scott Fingerhut of Miami; Harley Herman of Plant City; Glaucia Jones of Lake Mary; Marck Joseph of Miami; Brian Liegel of Miami; Joshua Magidson of Clearwater; Schnelle Tonge of West Palm Beach; Michelle Yard of Winter Garden; and Jennifer Zedalis of Gainesville. The Practice Analysis Panel met at least monthly from October 2020 through April 2021 to identify areas of responsibility and subjects relevant to entry-level practice.
Based on the work of the Practice Analysis Panel, Scantron developed the survey from May through August 2021.
The FBBE Practice Analysis Survey was distributed to active members of The Florida Bar for completion in September and October 2021. More than 21,000 Bar members participated in the survey with over 13,000 Bar members completing the entire survey.
FBBE Practice Analysis Study Report
was published June 16, 2022. The next phase of the Board’s work is to make specific recommendations about exam changes. The Board has asked its Test Subjects Committee to consider whether to recommend changes to the subjects currently tested on the exam, which would require amending the Rules of the Supreme Court Relating to Admissions to the Bar. The Test Subjects Committee will also consider changes to the subtopics, or test specifications, that fall within those subjects.
The Board also has appointed a second committee, the NextGen Bar Exam Committee, to evaluate the replacement for the Multistate Bar Examination. The Board’s committee will use the results of the practice analysis to assess the extent to which the NextGen Bar Exam may have a role in the future of the Florida Bar Exam as well as other possible alternatives to the current exam’s design.