Updated February 2016
1. The College accepts nominations from September 1st to February 1st . Nomination forms are available on the website or if requested, by email. The application is a two-part form - one for the nominee to complete and one for the nominators to complete. The nominator form requires the signatures of two Fellows in support of the nominee. Nominators are encouraged to fill out separate forms, but each nominator must submit separate statements. Nominations can be emailed, faxed or sent via mail and may contain photocopied signatures.
2. In October 2002, the Board set a cap that restricted the growth of the College on an annual basis. Membership is now limited to an annual increase of no more than 10% of the total number of Fellows as of January 1st each year.
3. The February 1st deadline for nominations is strictly enforced. If this date falls on the weekend , the deadline automatically becomes 5:00 pm (est) on the following Monday.
4. The Board of Governors has appointed Circuit Credentials Committees to complete due diligence on all nominees. These Committees follow the pattern of the Federal Circuits. (The 9th Circuit has been divided into two committees, North and South, because of size and geographic distance.) In addition, a newly formed Canadian Credentials Committee will be responsible for all Canadian applications. The job of these committees is to determine which candidates should be recommended for membership. Committees will review reference letters and Fellows comments, following up on all information for verification purposes, if necessary.
5. Shortly after the February deadline, the submitted nominations for each Circuit are mailed to that Circuit's Credentials Committee Chairperson, together with this memo, a copy of a model diligence letter, reference reply form and nominee evaluation form. (See Tab 1) This last form explains the importance of the ranking system in the evaluation and selection. Each member of the committee receives copies of all these materials, except the candidates' nomination forms. Distribution of the nomination forms is left to the discretion of each circuit chairperson.
6. In addition to the materials mentioned in number 5, the following documents are provided to all circuit credentials committee members to assist in their due diligence and should be referred to during the deliberation of all prospective candidates:
- a Credentials Protocol (See Tab 2) which provides basic guidance and direction to the committees as they perform their duties.
- guidelines for consideration of Government Attorneys and In-House Counsel Nominees (See Tab 3).
- guidelines regarding the involvement of a committee member when dealing with a candidate that he/she nominated, is a colleague of, or is a reference for; reference reply forms that are not returned in a timely fashion; diversity as a factor in determining if a candidate is highly qualified; and the issue of verbal comments by a Fellow who wishes to remain anonymous (See Tab 4).
- the Guide of Judiciary Policy addresses concerns that some have raised regarding the use of sitting judges as references (See Tab 5).
- a due process procedure for addressing allegations of disqualifying nominee conduct (See Tab 6).
7. A list of candidates for every circuit is sent to all Fellows, soliciting comments on the nominees (See Tab 7). Fellows are asked to forward their comments directly to the circuit chairperson whose committee is evaluating the candidate.
8. The nominee evaluation form (sample included at Tab 1) is an essential part of the credentialing process. The committee should complete a form for each candidate in their circuit and rate the candidate as "highly qualified," "qualified," "not qualified" or "unable to respond," accompanied by an explanation. In addition, the candidates for each circuit should be separately ranked within the "highly qualified" and "qualified" categories in order of preference for admission by the Circuit Committee.
9. Committees have approximately twelve weeks to complete their task. Recommendations are to be returned during the middle of April (specific date is determined each year), using the nominee evaluation form.
10. After receipt of the recommendations of the Circuit Credentials Committee, copies are sent to members of the Board of Governors' Credentials Committee. Thereafter, at a meeting of that Committee, all applications, references, recommendations and related materials are reviewed, and a recommended list of new candidates is compiled. Circuit Chairs are also invited to join the meeting, via conference call, to discuss their candidates with the Committee.
11. A full Board of Governors meeting takes place in June where the list of recommended candidates will be presented to the Board. A formal vote confirms the election of these candidates.
12. Letters to the newly elected Fellows are sent out following the formal vote of the Board of Governors and include the membership package (See Tab 8).
13. If, for any reason, the Board of Governors is unable to reach a consensus on a candidate, and this candidate requires additional diligence by the Circuit Credentials Committee responsible, the announcement of all approved candidates will be delayed until resolution of the candidate(s).
14. Candidates who are not elected to membership are deferred for either one year, three years or five years. A letter is sent to nominators explaining the situation and advising them as to when their candidate can be re-nominated (See Tab 9 for explanations of these designations and sample letters). Individuals who are re-nominated in subsequent years do not receive priority consideration.
15. An email letter will be sent to the Circuit Credentials Committee chairs advising them of the decisions of the Board shortly after letters are mailed to the newly elected Fellows.
16. Notification of the decision of the Board is made by letter to the newly elected Fellow from the Board only. Inquiries as to the Board's decision will not be honored until such time as the notification letters have been mailed and receipt expected. A list of the new Fellows will also be posted on the College's website and an email will be sent out to all Fellows approximately ten days after the letters of congratulations have been mailed.