Paul L. Caron

Monday, April 20, 2020

More Law Prof Commentary On Utah's Bar Diploma Privilege Proposal

Following up on my earlier posts:

Dan Rodriguez (Northwestern), More On The Utah Bar Proposal:

Some scattered thoughts, adding to my post last week about the Utah Supreme Court's pending bar proposal, the proposal that permit graduates from law schools with at least an 86% rate of first-time bar takers (in any jurisdiction) to be admitted under the supervision of lawyers as elaborated in the proposal.

First, some of the commentary, including by BYU's dean, Gordon Smith, suggests that this is considerably more generous than Wisconsin's diploma privilege for the two in-state schools. What is missing from this account, however, is a more detailed description of the Wisconsin rule. ...

Second, any implication in this proposal that graduates will help close the access to justice gap in their work with supervising attorneys is speculative. ...

Third, Derek Muller has a thoughtful post here that, as he notes, comes at the issue from the opposite direction as I did. That is, he worries that the proposal is too inclusive, in that it sweeps many schools whose graduates might not be successful in Utah. This seems to me a plausible and important argument. However, his suggestion that the remedy be to limit the scope of the rule to just BYU and Utah raises protectionist considerations. ...

Finally, we should reflect, as I said earlier, on exactly what this proposal means for our state-by-state system as a whole.  Coming back to Professor Muller's point, if Utah and Wisconsin give special rules for their in-state schools, what we do make of a nationwide move to do likewise? For those of us who think that the lawyering world is better without artificial borders, this development is unsettling.

Derek Muller (Pepperdine), Heat and Light Over the Utah Bar Diploma Privilege Proposal:

As my post mentioned, about 1/3 of all law schools qualify their graduates to earn diploma privilege in Utah in 2020 (if the proposal is enacted). Additionally, by my calculations, that’s about 42% of graduating law students. One is hard-pressed to call that “a small percentage.” Finally, by my (rough!) reckoning, it would extend to at least 90% of those who were registered for the Utah bar exam this July, if not more—hardly a “small percentage” ...

All in all, then, there are some increasingly heated disputes. I do hope, however, that bar licensing authorities, including Utah, look closely at the present circumstances, tailor solutions for those present circumstances, and consider the more long-term solutions appropriately in the years to come.

TaxProf Blog coverage of the July 2020 bar exam:

For complete TaxProf Blog coverage of the coronavirus, see here.

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