The Supreme Court of California on Tuesday announced the appointment of 19 commission members who will study the future of California’s Bar Exam.
The Joint Supreme Court/State Bar Blue Ribbon Commission on the Future of the California Bar Exam will develop recommendations on whether to make changes to the California Bar Exam, and “whether to adopt alternative or additional testing or tools to ensure minimum competence to practice law,” according to the charter.
The commission will also consider whether the Bar Exam, or any of its parts, should be administered online and/or in-person. The first online Bar Exam was held in October 2020 and the next one is scheduled online for July 2021 as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The 19 commission members have multiple areas of expertise and represent a wide range of stakeholders, including: the California Lawyers Association; law school deans and faculty; Committee of Bar Examiners; former members of the California Attorney Practice Analysis working group; Council on Access and Fairness; judges; NCBE Testing Task Force; California Department of Consumer Affairs; State Bar Board of Trustees; and national experts on developing exams and online testing security.
The court added two additional members to the original 17 called for in the commission charter. The additional members are a California Lawyers Association member with a litigation background (a skillset identified by the California Attorney Practice Analysis Working Group as an area the bar exam should assess) and a representative of the legal education field with experience preparing students for the bar exam or practicing law.
The commission plans to issue its recommendations in early 2022.
The appointed members are:
California Lawyers Association (CLA)
- Ona Dosunmu is the first CEO and executive director of the California Lawyers Association. Prior to that, she served as vice president and general counsel at the Brookings Institution.
- Charles Duggan is a criminal defense attorney who joined the California bar after passing the February 2020 California Bar Exam.
- Amy Williams is CEO of AB Unlimited, specializing in print and marketing resources for corporations. Williams practiced civil litigation, family law, and business law as a sole practitioner and with Geraci Law, APC.
Law School Deans/Faculty
- Susan Bakhshian is a professor at Loyola Law School and oversees all bar exam programs. As the school’s Director of Bar Exam Programs for almost a decade, she has experience participating in bar review courses, bar exam student counseling, and bar exam grading sessions.
- Mai Linh Spencer is an associate clinical professor at UC Hastings. She is also the academic director of the Lawyers for America program, which places third-year law students in full-year externships in nonprofits and government offices, followed by a year of paid, post-graduate work. Spencer teaches an “Essential Lawyering Skills and Legal Externship” seminar to teach the skills and knowledge required by entry-level attorneys.
- Natalie Rodriguez is a professor and assistant dean of academic success at Southwestern Law School. Rodriguez has primary responsibility for designing and implementing academic support courses and designing and teaching bar-exam preparation classes, workshops, and events. Rodriguez helped develop data metrics to predict students’ success on bar exams as part of her law school’s task force on the subject. She has participated in recent studies of the bar exam, including the 2018 Performance Changes on the CBX, which attempted to determine the reasons for declining bar pass rates.
Members of the Committee of Bar Examiners (CBE)
- Alex Chan is a partner at the Devlin Law Firm, which practices patent law and trade secret litigation in California, Texas, and Delaware. Chan is the first person in his family to earn a college degree and first to become an attorney. Chan has been a court-appointed member of CBE since 2017, where he is currently chair of its Operations and Management subcommittee. He is a member of the NCBE’s Test Design Committee. Most recently, Chan served on the informal working group that directed the efforts to move the California Bar Exam online for the first time.
- Esther Lin is a deputy district attorney in Orange County. Before that, Lin was an attorney at Best, Best, & Krieger and at Woodruff, Spradlin, & Smart where she represented local government agencies in major public improvement projects. She has also served as a pro tem judge in Orange County since 2019. She has been a court-appointed member of CBE since 2017, and currently serves as chair of the committee. She is also a member of the NCBE’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and formerly served on its Character and Fitness Investigations Committee.
Former Members of California Attorney Practice Analysis Working Group (CAPA)
- Jackie Gardina is the dean and chief academic officer for the Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law, both California-accredited schools. Gardina is the current chair of the Committee of State Bar Accredited and Registered Schools, which advises the bar on its regulation of California-accredited and unaccredited law schools.
- Emily L. Scivoletto is the senior assistant dean of student affairs at UC Davis School of Law. Scivoletto served similar roles at UCLA Law School and the University of San Diego School of Law, where Scivoletto designed and taught bar exam prep courses. Before that, she was a professor at UC Davis and McGeorge law schools where she also assisted students in bar exam preparation. Scivoletto has prior experience grading bar exam questions and attending calibration sessions. In addition, she served as a panelist in the 2017 Standard Setting Study for the Bar Exam.
Members of the State Bar’s Council on Access and Fairness (COAF)
- Ryan Harrison an associate attorney at Jackson Lewis in Sacramento, where he practices labor and employment litigation for public and private sector employers. Harrison is a graduate of UC Hastings, and entered the California bar in 2016. While in law school, Harrison served as an extern in California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye’s chambers. Harrison is COAF’s vice-chair.
- Kristin L. Rosi is a chief administrative law judge for the Department of Insurance. Rosi also occasionally serves as a pro tem judge or as a mental health hearing officer for the Alameda County Superior Court. In addition to volunteering for COAF, Rosi is a member of the National Association of Women Judges, where she serves as co-chair of the Administrative Judiciary Committee and chair of the LGBTQ Committee.
- Justice Patricia Guerrero (chair) has been a justice in the Fourth Appellate District, Division One since 2017. Prior to that, Justice Guerrero was a judge of the San Diego Superior Court. Before her appointment to the bench, she was an associate and then partner at Latham & Watkins. While at Latham, Justice Guerrero trained incoming associates to prepare them for practicing law at the firm.
- Judge Glen Reiser (Ret.) is currently an arbitrator for JAMS in Los Angeles. Judge Reiser retired from the Ventura County Superior Court in 2019 after serving more than 20 years on the bench. He has an extensive history of volunteer work, including various Judicial Council advisory bodies, teaching courses for judges, and serving as a member of the California Attorney Practice Analysis Working Group.
NCBE Testing Task Force
- David Boyd is a partner at Balch & Bingham in Birmingham, Alabama. Boyd is former chair of the Alabama Board of Bar Examiners and former chair of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, where he served on the Board of Trustees. Currently, he chairs NCBE’s Long Range Planning Committee and serves as a member of the Testing Task Force, Boyd is also a former chair of the Alabama State Bar Disciplinary Commission and the former vice-president of the Alabama State Bar.
National Expert on Examination
- Dr. James Henderson is a psychometrician and runs his own consulting service, Credentialing Examination Consulting in Raleigh, North Carolina. For more than 30 years, Dr. Henderson has specialized in practice analysis, test design, test specifications, test development, standard setting, scoring, analysis, and reporting. He has consulted for new and existing credentialing examinations.
California Department of Consumer Affairs
- Tracy Montez is the chief of the Division of Programs and Policy Review at the California Department of Consumer Affairs. Montez oversees a number of units, including the Office of Professional Examination Services where she evaluates the content-related validity of the department’s regulatory exams and evaluates national professional licensure exams. She has also overseen her agency’s efforts to shift its regulatory paper exams into computer-based testing formats. Montez has more than 20 years of experience in education and providing assessment and regulatory expertise to city, state, and national organizations.
State Bar Board of Trustees
- Joshua Perttula (vice-chair) is president of Kirra Consulting and manages his own real estate investment company. He previously served as the special assistant city attorney for the City of Los Angeles where he managed and supervised attorneys and support staff at the Los Angeles World Airports, the Port of Los Angeles and the Department of Water and Power. Perttula served as the head of the informal bar exam working group that navigated moving the bar exam to an online format. He was appointed to the State Bar Board of Trustees in 2018 by the Pro Tem of the California Senate.
Expert on Online Testing Software, Security, and Privacy Evaluation
- Karen Silverman is CEO and founder of the Cantellus Group and is a board member and retired partner at Latham & Watkins. She consults on issues raised by the use of artificial intelligence, computer privacy, and other frontier technologies. Silverman acted as a consultant to the informal bar exam working group to help it navigate the privacy and security issues raised by the first online bar exam.