National Law Journal: Harvard Grad Who Flunked Bar Sues Over Loss of Big-Law Job, by Karen Sloan:
A 2013 Harvard graduate who twice failed the bar exam has sued the New York State Board of Law Examiners, claiming its refusal to provide testing accommodations derailed her career at Ropes & Gray.
Tamara Wyche, who alleges she suffers from anxiety and cognitive impairment, asserts that the board’s decision not to grant all of her requested accommodations the first two times she took the exam led to her termination from the Boston-based law firm. She passed the exam on the third try in 2015 with additional accommodations but hasn’t been able to find work at a large firm, according to the complaint, filed June 10 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. ...
Wyche, 29, claims she was first diagnosed with depression and anxiety as a first-year law student at Harvard. She also suffered several head injuries that resulted in memory problems and cognitive difficulties, according to her complaint, and took several leaves of absence. She returned to campus and earned her law degree in 2013 while receiving doctor-recommended accommodations including 50 percent extra time on tests, a separate testing room, and extra break time. Due to anxiety and panic attacks, she also was exempt from “cold calls” by professors.
When Wyche applied to take the bar exam in July 2013, she asked for the same accommodations Harvard had provided.
The board initially denied all her requests but upon appeal allowed her extra break time and a smaller testing room, her suit claims. She failed after having panic attacks during the exam, she alleges, and her standing as a “star” associate at Ropes & Gray took a hit, she alleges. (The firm did not respond to a request to confirm Wyche’s employment.) She also failed the July 2014 bar exam after the board granted her 50 percent extra time and a smaller testing room, but denied any extra break time. Ropes & Gray terminated her employment after her second failure, Wyche claims.
The board granted her request for double time on the February 2015 bar exam, and Wyche passed, according to her suit. “[Wyche] was gratified to receive notice in April 2015 that she had passed, but her career already had been damaged beyond repair by the Board’s inexplicable failure to provide her with appropriate accommodations,” her complaint reads.
Wyche has thus far been unable to secure another large-firm job because of her bar failures, and has been working in temporary positions, according to her suit.