HAWAI‘I BOARD OF
Adopted and Promulgated by
the Supreme Court
of the State of Hawai‘i
August 14, 2003
Effective January 1, 2004
State of Hawai‘i
HAWAI‘I BOARD OF BAR EXAMINERS
RULES OF PROCEDURE
Table of Contents
BOARD OF EXAMINERS; GENERAL PROVISIONS
Section 1.1. Chairperson
Section 1.2. Vice-chairperson
Section 1.3. Secretary
Section 1.4. Staff
Section 1.5. Terms of Service; Number of Members
Section 1.6. Members
Section 1.7. Meetings
Section 1.8. Quorum
Section 1.9. Voting
Section 1.10. Conflict of Interest
Section 1.11. Committees, Hearing Officers, Designees
Section 1.12. Confidential Communications
Section 1.13. Personnel
Section 1.14. Computation of Time; Additional Time After Service by Mail
APPLICATIONS; REVIEW OF APPLICATIONS
Section 2.1. Hawai‘i Bar Application; Forms; Time to Submit
Section 2.2. Educational Requirement; Certified Transcript
Section 2.3. Fees
Section 2.4. Incomplete Applications
Section 2.5. Investigation of Applications; Application Held in Abeyance
Section 2.6. Evaluation of Applicants for Good Character, Fitness to Practice, and
Financial Responsibility by National Conference of Bar Examiners and Board
Section 2.7. Applicant Cooperation
Section 2.8. Application Updating
Section 2.9. Withdrawal of Application
Section 2.10. Qualified Applicants
Section 2.11. Recommendation of Denial of Application
Section 2.12. Request for Hearing
NON-STANDARD TESTING ACCOMMODATIONS
Section 3.1. Requests for Non-Standard Testing Accommodations; Forms
Section 3.2. Procedures for Review of Requests for Non-Standard Accommodations
Section 3.3. Request for Hearing
HEARINGS; PETITION FOR REVIEW
Section 4.1. Hearing Officer or Panel
Section 4.2. Records; Shorthand Reporters; Transcripts
Section 4.3. Recommendation to the Supreme Court
Section 4.4. Petition for Supreme Court Review
Section 5.1 Examination Administrator
Section 5.2 Examination Security
Section 5.3 Incident Reports
Section 5.4 Disruptive Behavior
Section 5.5 Prohibited Items and Activities
HAWAI‘I BOARD OF BAR EXAMINERS
RULES OF PROCEDURE
BOARD OF EXAMINERS; GENERAL
Section 1.1. Chairperson.
The Chairperson of the Board of Examiners (Board) shall preside over meetings of the Board.
Section 1.2. Vice-chairperson.
The Vice-chairperson of the Board shall serve in the absence or disqualification of the
Section 1.3. Secretary.
The Clerk of the Hawai‘i Supreme Court (Clerk) shall serve as Secretary to the Board and may
designate staff members to assist the Board. The Clerk or the Clerk’s designee shall prepare and
maintain the minutes of Board meetings.
Section 1.4. Staff.
Any person assigned to provide services to the Board is authorized to act on behalf of the Board
for duties specified herein. The Clerk, at the request of the Board Chair or the Board, may assign staff
to provide other services to the Board or to act on the Board’s behalf.
Section 1.5. Terms of Service; Number of Members.
The Hawai‘i Supreme Court (Supreme Court) shall determine the terms of service of the
Chairperson, Vice-chairperson, and other members of the Board. The Supreme Court shall determine
the number of members who serve on the Board.
Section 1.6. Members.
A Board member may serve only as long as the member is an active or inactive member of the
Hawai‘i Bar in good standing and is in good standing in any other jurisdiction in which the member
is licensed to practice.
Section 1.7. Meetings.
The Board shall convene when called into session by the Chairperson. Members may attend
meetings by telephone or video conference. Board meetings and proceedings governed by these Rules
are confidential, except as provided by Rule 1, RSCH.
Section 1.8. Quorum.
Fifteen (15) Board members shall constitute a quorum to do business.
Section 1.9. Voting.
Board members may vote in person or, upon written designation, by proxy.
Section 1.10. Conflict of Interest.
Board members shall refrain from taking part in any proceeding in which a judge, similarly
situated, would be required to abstain.
Section 1.11. Committees, Hearing Officers, Designees.
The Chairperson may, from time to time, establish and appoint such committees, hearing officers,
or designees as necessary to carry out the duties of the Board. The Chairperson may delegate the
authority to act on behalf of the Board to a committee, hearing officer, designee, or combinations of
committees, hearing officers, or designees.
Section 1.12. Confidential Communications.
Except with respect to the Board, its members, the Supreme Court, and judiciary staff,
communications between Board members, between a Board member and an applicant, or between a
Board member and any other organization with respect to the qualifications of an applicant are
confidential. This rule does not prohibit the Board, its members, the Supreme Court, or the judiciary
staff from disclosing information in furtherance of an investigation of applicants under Rule 1, RSCH,
or rules governing attorney conduct and discipline in any jurisdiction.
Section 1.13. Personnel.
The Chairperson may retain personnel to carry out the duties of the Board under Rule 1, RSCH,
and these Rules. Personnel retained by the Chairperson shall serve without pay or shall be paid from
Board funds and shall not be employees of the Judiciary.
Section 1.14. Computation of Time; Additional Time After Service by Mail.
(a) In computing any period of time prescribed or allowed by these Rules, the day of the act, event,
or default after which the designated period of time begins to run shall not be included. The last day
of the period so computed shall be included unless it is a Saturday, a Sunday or a holiday, in which
event the period shall run until the end of the next day that is not a Saturday, a Sunday, or a holiday.
When the period of time prescribed or allowed is less than seven (7) days, intermediate Saturdays,
Sundays and holidays shall be excluded from the computation. As used in this rule, “holiday”
includes any day designated as such pursuant to section 8-1 of the Hawai‘i Revised Statutes.
(b) When an applicant, the Board, a Board Committee, or a Board hearing officer, has the right
or is required to do some act or take some action within a prescribed period after service of a notice
or other paper and the notice or paper is served by mail, two (2) days shall be added to the prescribed
(c) Service by mail is deemed complete when a mailed item is received or refused or returned due
to an incorrect address, provided the incorrect address is one provided by the applicant.
APPLICATIONS; REVIEW OF
Section 2.1. Hawai‘i Bar Application; Forms; Time to Submit.
(a) Each applicant shall submit, in duplicate, a Hawai‘i Bar Application. The application shall be
submitted on the forms prescribed and furnished by the Board and shall be verified and typewritten or machine
(b) Applications for the February examination shall be submitted to the Clerk on or before the first day
of November preceding the examination. Applications for the July examination shall be submitted to the
Clerk on or before the first day of April preceding the examination.
(c) The applicant shall completely answer each item in the application.
Section 2.2. Educational Requirement; Certified Transcript.
The applicant shall provide a certified transcript or other appropriate official documentation to
verify the applicant’s graduation from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association
(ABA). If the applicant did not graduate from an ABA-accredited law school, the applicant shall
provide evidence to establish that the applicant satisfies the years-of-practice requirement in Rule 1,
Section 2.3. Fees.
The applicant shall pay the filing and character report fees when the application is submitted. The
filing fee is non-refundable and nontransferable. The Clerk shall reject without prejudice any
application that is not accompanied by the fee unless the Supreme Court, by prior order, has waived
Section 2.4. Incomplete Applications.
The Board or its Applications Review Committee (ARC) may reject applications that are
incomplete or do not conform to the requirements of the application forms or these rules. Such
rejections shall not be subject to further review, and shall be without prejudice to submission of a new
Section 2.5. Investigation of Applications; Application Held in Abeyance.
The Board, the ARC, the judiciary staff, or a Board designee shall review each application and
may investigate the applicant’s background and qualifications to determine whether to recommend
to the Supreme Court that the applicant be allowed to sit for the Hawai‘i Bar Examination or be
admitted to the Bar of Hawai‘i. The Board, the ARC, or the judiciary staff may contact such sources
as necessary to obtain and verify information about the applicant. The review may include an
interview with the applicant.
Section 2.6. Evaluation of Applicants for Good Character, Fitness to Practice, and Financial
Responsibility by National Conference of Bar Examiners and Board.
(a) Each applicant shall undergo a character investigation by the National Conference of Bar
Examiners (NCBE). Each applicant shall submit the NCBE fee with his or her application. Each
applicant is required to contact the NCBE to determine the amount of the fee. The Clerk shall dismiss
without prejudice the application if the applicant does not submit the NCBE fee or submits an
(b) The Board, the ARC, or the judiciary staff shall review the application to determine whether
the applicant has provided character and fitness evidence. The Board or the ARC shall consider
whether the evidence meets the standard of character and fitness set forth in Rule 1, RSCH.
(c) The following factors, among others, adversely reflect on an applicant’s character and fitness
to practice law and may constitute cause for additional inquiry or a recommendation to deny the
(1) unlawful conduct;
(2) academic misconduct;
(3) false statements;
(4) relevant and material omissions;
(5) misconduct in employment;
(6) acts involving, dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation;
(7) abuse of legal process;
(8) neglect of professional obligations;
(9) violation of a court order;
(10) denial of admission in another jurisdiction on character or fitness grounds;
(11) legal or professional disciplinary action in any jurisdiction;
(12) failure to conform conduct to the requirements of the law;
(13) a pattern of offenses, even ones of minor significance indicating indifference to legal
(14) financial irresponsibility.
(d) When reviewing an applicant’s conduct, the following factors, among others, may be
considered as mitigating factors:
(1) the applicant’s age at the time of the conduct;
(2) when the conduct occurred;
(3) reliability of the information concerning the conduct;
(4) seriousness of the conduct;
(5) circumstances in which the conduct occurred;
(6) the cumulative effect of conduct or information;
(7) evidence of rehabilitation;
(8) positive social contributions since the conduct;
(9) candor in the admissions process; and
(10) materiality of omissions or misrepresentations.
Section 2.7. Applicant Cooperation.
The applicant shall cooperate with the Board, the ARC, and judiciary staff to provide sufficient
information for a complete evaluation of the applicant.
Section 2.8. Application Updating.
Until the applicant is admitted, the applicant is under a continuing obligation to keep his or her
application current and must update responses when there is an addition to or a change in information
previously furnished to the Board.
Section 2.9. Withdrawal of Application.
An applicant may withdraw an application by submitting a written request to the Clerk at any time
prior to administration of the Hawai‘i Bar Examination. Fees shall not be refunded or transferred.
Section 2.10. Qualified Applicants.
The Board shall recommend the names of applicants who are deemed qualified to sit for the
Hawai‘i Bar Examination to the Supreme Court.
Section 2.11. Recommendation of Denial of Application.
If the Board or the ARC concludes an applicant has failed to establish character and fitness
qualifications, it shall recommend denial of the application. The Clerk shall notify the applicant of
the recommendation by certified mail with return receipt requested. The notice shall specify the
grounds for the recommendation.
Section 2.12. Request for Hearing.
(a) An applicant may seek review of the Board’s or the ARC’s recommendation to deny an
application under Section 2.11 by filing, with the Clerk, a written request for a hearing. The request
must be filed within twenty (20) days after receipt of the notice of the recommendation.
(b) The hearing shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of Part 4.
Section 3.1. Requests for Non-Standard Testing Accommodations; Forms.
(a) A request for non-standard testing accommodations shall be on forms prescribed by the Board
and shall consist of all of the following:
(1) a statement of the applicant, including a description of the applicant’s disability and the non-standard accommodations requested;
(2) a certificate of the applicant’s medical or psychological authority. The cost of obtaining
certification including the certificate from medical and/psychological authority shall be borne by the
(3) a certificate from any educational institution, employer, or other testing organization that
standard accommodations to the applicant while the applicant attended the educational institution or
was employed by the employer, or took other examinations; and
(4) an authorization for release of records from the applicant’s medical and/or psychological
authorities for the purpose of determining whether the applicant has a disability as defined in Rule 1,
RSCH, and whether reasonable accommodation is appropriate.
(b) The applicant may file any additional documentation in support of the request.
(c) Except as provided in (e) below, the applicant shall file a request for non-standard testing
accommodations with the application and within the time provided by Section 2.1(b).
(d) The Clerk shall provide the forms necessary to complete a request for non-standard testing
(e) An applicant who becomes disabled after timely filing his or her application may submit a late
request for non-standard testing accommodations after the application deadline if the applicant’s
application for the Hawai‘i Bar Examination is complete in all other respects, and the applicant
promptly submits a written request for non-standard testing accommodations, written certified medical
documentation of the need for the non-standard accommodations that provides the nature and extent
of the disability, the date the disability arose, and the non-standard testing accommodations requested.
(1) The Board’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Committee or its designee shall consider
emergency requests on a case-by-case basis.
(2) Decisions on emergency requests shall be made as soon as practicable and shall be
communicated in writing to the applicant as soon as practicable. The ADA Committee or its designee
may deny an emergency request if there is insufficient time remaining before the examination to make
a determination on the merits or to provide appropriate accommodations without prejudice to the
request for non-standard accommodations being carried over to the next regularly scheduled bar
Section 3.2. Procedures for Review of Requests for Non-Standard Accommodations.
(a) The ADA Committee or its designee, in conjunction with the ARC and other Board
committees, shall review all requests for non-standard testing accommodations filed. Incomplete
requests or requests that do not otherwise comply with the requirements of these Rules may be
rejected for consideration by the ADA Committee or its designee.
(b) The ADA Committee or its designee may request an applicant to submit additional information
in support of the applicant’s request. The ADA Committee or its designee may seek the assistance
of a medical, psychological, or other authority designated by the Board’s ADA Committee or its
designee in reviewing a request. The ADA Committee or it designee may request the applicant to
undergo an independent medical and/or psychological examination at the Board’s expense.
(c) The ADA Committee’s or its designee’s decision on a request shall be in writing and sent to
the applicant by certified mail to the address provided by the applicant on the request. The ADA
Committee’s or its designee’s recommendation to deny or modify a request shall include a statement
of the reasons for denial or modification. The ADA Committee or its designee shall also provide the
applicant with a copy of the written report of any expert it consulted in reviewing the request and a
copy of any independent medical examination performed at the request of the ADA Committee or its
Section 3.3. Request for Hearing.
(a) An applicant may seek review of the ADA Committee’s or its designee’s recommendation to
deny or modify the applicant’s request by filing a written request for a hearing with the Clerk within
twenty (20) days after receiving notice of the recommendation.
(b) The hearing shall be conducted in accordance with the procedures in Part 4.
HEARINGS; PETITION FOR REVIEW
Section 4.1. Hearing Officer or Panel.
(a) The Chairperson may appoint a hearing officer or a hearing panel of up to three (3) Board
members to consider an applicant’s request for review of the Board’s, Board committee’s or its
designee’s recommendation to deny an application on character and fitness grounds or deny or modify
a request for accommodations. If a panel is appointed, the Chairperson shall designate a chairperson
of the panel to preside at the hearing. The hearing panel or officer shall be appointed no later than 60
days after the applicant’s request for review was received by the Clerk.
(b) The Chairperson may appoint an attorney to represent the ARC or ADA committee before the
hearing officer or panel.
(c) Hearing officers or panel members shall receive no compensation for their services, but may
be reimbursed for travel and other expenses incidental to the performance of their duties.
(d) The hearing officer or panel shall schedule the hearing. The hearing may occur after the Hawai‘i Bar
Examination is administered, but shall commence no more than 180 days after the applicant’s request for
review was received by the Clerk, unless the hearing officer or panel extends the time at the request of the
applicant for good cause. The Clerk shall notify the applicant, in writing of the time and place of the hearing,
that the applicant may be represented by counsel and present such witnesses as the applicant may choose, and
that the applicant must submit the applicant’s witnesses and exhibit lists no later than ten days before the
(e) A hearing officer, hearing panel member, judiciary staff member, or the Clerk may administer
oaths and affirmations for any hearing held pursuant to these Rules.
(f) The hearing officer or panel shall not be bound by the rules of evidence. Any oral or
documentary evidence may be received, but irrelevant, immaterial, or unduly repetitious evidence may
be excluded. The hearing officer or panel shall give effect to the rules of privilege recognized by law
and may take notice of judicially recognizable facts.
(g) The applicant bears the burden of proof by a preponderance of evidence.
(h) A hearing officer’s or panel’s recommendation shall be based upon consideration of the whole
record and supported by the reliable, probative and substantial evidence in the record.. (Amended May 4, 2012, effective July 1, 2012.)
Section 4.2. Records; Shorthand Reporters; Transcripts.
The hearing officer or panel shall record and preserve in writing, on tape, or by use of such other
mechanical or electronic device as may be appropriate, the proceedings and evidence in its
proceedings. If the record is preserved by stenographic means, the hearing officer or panel may
engage the services of a shorthand reporter. The record need not be transcribed unless ordered by the
hearing officer or panel. The original of any transcript shall be filed with the record.
Section 4.3. Recommendation to the Supreme Court.
No later than 60 days after the hearing concludes, the hearing officer or panel shall submit written
findings and recommendations to the supreme court. The Clerk shall serve upon the applicant a copy
of the findings and recommendation. Service shall be made by certified mail with return receipt
Section 4.4. Petition for Supreme Court Review.
An applicant may file a petition with the Clerk for review of the hearing officer’s or panel’s
recommendation within twenty (20) days after service of the findings and recommendation.
Section 5.1. Examination Administrator.
The Clerk shall be the Bar Examination Administrator. The Clerk may delegate or assign any or
all of the duties set forth herein to the Clerk’s employees or other Judiciary employees, members of
the Board of Bar Examiners, members of the Bar, volunteers, or law enforcement officers.
Section 5.2. Examination Security.
The Clerk shall take reasonable measures to secure the examination materials and the examination
site to protect the integrity of the examination and the examination process. The Clerk shall arrange
for the examination site and shall provide proctors to supervise the examination. The Clerk shall
impose such other restrictions as the Clerk deems necessary to protect the integrity of the examination
Section 5.3. Incident Reports.
The Clerk shall report to the court and the Board any incident or event that could call the integrity
of an applicant or the examination process into question.
Section 5.4. Disruptive Behavior.
The Clerk shall cause to be removed from the examination site any disruptive person, any person
who refuses to surrender prohibited items, any person who refuses to follow instructions, or any
person who interferes in any manner with administration of the examination. The Clerk may prohibit
any such person, including any applicant, from further attending the examination.
Section 5.5. Prohibited Items and Activities.
(a) During the examination, the Clerk shall not allow any applicant, to
(1) possess a cell phone, walkie talkie, pager, or other communications device;
(2) possess photograph, video, or other recording equipment;
(3) possess any personal study aid or personal written materials, except those provided by the
Board of Examiners;
(4) possess personal items, including but not limited to food, drinks, time keeping devices other
than a wristwatch, highlighting markers, color pens or pencils, cigarettes, matches, lighters, weapons,
hats, caps, or scarves;
(5) communicate with another applicant or with anyone other than staff members and proctors,
(6) review or open test materials or begin any test before being instructed to do so;
(7) continue the test after time is called; or
(8) disrupt the proceedings.
(b) This rule does not preclude use of communication devices or personal items previously
authorized as non-standard testing accommodations.
(Added December 7, 2005, effective January 1, 2006.)