Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Amid More Bar Exam Delays, Push For Diploma Privilege Grows

Karen Sloan (, Amid More Bar Exam Delays, Push for Diploma Privilege Grows:

CoronavirusNew York on Friday became the first jurisdiction to officially postpone the July bar exam, clearing the path for others to follow suit, including Massachusetts and Connecticut, which both announced Monday that they will also postpone the exam to an as-yet-undermined date in the fall.

Those announcements come after the National Conference of Bar Examiners, which develops the test, said last week that it will offer a separate exam in the fall for jurisdictions that can’t or don’t want to move ahead with the test in July amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The move to fall bar exams is distressing many law students, who fear additional postponements and cancellations if the COVID-19 pandemic drags on as some public health officials predict. Those changes could put their professional future on hold for the foreseeable future, they say. ...

Law students in New York, Florida, California, the District of Columbia and other jurisdictions have circulated petitions and open letters to bar examiners, urging them to go the emergency diploma privilege route. A group of legal educators last week kicked off the diploma privilege push with a paper that recommended it as a practical way to deal with attorney licensing at an unprecedented time. ...

New York’s decision to delay the exam may also prompt a rush of third-year students in the state signing up for the July test in other jurisdictions that use the Uniform Bar Exam, hoping that those states will move forward, noted CUNY Law Dean Mary Lu Bilek. The UBE allows test takers to transfer their [scores] to any UBE jurisdiction and be admitted without having to take that state’s bar.

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Re diploma privilege:  The experience in Wisconsin is one thing.  What to do about institutions such as Vermont Law School, which, with a total of three tenured professors on campus in Fall 2018, had a 2019 bar pass rate for first time takers of 45.76%? 

Posted by: WhatAboutBelow50PercentBarPassageSchools | Apr 1, 2020 8:49:22 AM