Paul L. Caron

Friday, December 18, 2020

California Deans Ask That Students Who Passed California Bar Be Admitted To D.C. Bar

CA DC Bar (2020)

Letter to Shela Shanks, Director, Committee on Admissions and the Unauthorized Practice of Law, District of Columbia Courts (Dec. 17, 2020):

Dear Director Shanks,
We write in the hopes that you might reconsider this year’s rule prohibiting those who sat for and passed the California Bar Exam in October 2020 from obtaining licensure in the District of Columbia without sitting for the D.C. exam. We understand that the California Bar Examiners have not pursued reciprocity with the District, and that this may have influenced your decision.  We also understand that this year’s online exam format in many states, without a normal full MBE, may have factored into the recent rule change.

Given the unprecedented effects that the ongoing global pandemic is having on the careers of recent law graduates, we urge you to consider the burden this new rule places on individuals who took the most recent California Bar Exam.  Many students sat for the California bar expecting that, as in previous years, they would be able to waive into the District of Columbia using their MBE scores, and did not learn of the rule change until after registration deadlines had passed.  Compared to their peers who either passed the exam in another jurisdiction with which D.C. practices reciprocity, or who did not take an exam at all and are allowed to practice under supervision, those who are awaiting results from the October California exam must now devote additional time and money preparing for the next D.C. exam after just beginning jobs delayed by the pandemic.  While under normal circumstances we could appreciate your interest in allowing waivers only between D.C. and those states which practice reciprocity, or based on a normal transferable MBE score, these are not ordinary circumstances.  It also seems puzzling to allow supervised practice for those who have not taken and passed any bar exam, but to prohibit it for those who passed the California bar, notably one of the hardest bars to pass.  We would be very grateful were you to reconsider in order to avoid the inconsistencies and burdens that the current situation presents.


Paul L. Caron
Duane and Kelly Roberts Dean and Professor of Law
Pepperdine University Rick J. Caruso School of Law

Erwin Chemerinsky
Dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law
University of California, Berkeley School of Law

Eric C. Christiansen
Interim Dean & Professor of Law
Golden Gate University

Allen Easley
Western State College of Law

David L. Faigman
Chancellor & Dean & John F. Digardi Professor of Law
University of California Hastings College of the Law

Susan Freiwald
Dean and Professor of Law
University of San Francisco School of Law

Andrew T. Guzman
Dean and Carl Mason Franklin Chair in Law, & Professor of Law and Political Science
University of Southern California, Gould School of Law

Anna M. Han
Interim Dean and Professor of Law
Santa Clara University, School of Law

Jenny S. Martinez
Richard E. Lang Professor of Law & Dean
Stanford Law School

Jennifer L. Mnookin
Dean and David G. Price & Dallas P. Price Professor of Law
University of California, Los Angeles School of Law

Matt Parlow
Dean and Donald P. Kennedy Chair in Law
Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law

Susan Westerberg Prager
President and Dean
Southwestern Law School

L. Song Richardson
Dean and Chancellor’s Professor of Law
University of California, Irvine School of Law

Michael Waterstone
Fritz B. Burns Dean and Professor of Law
Loyola Law School, Loyola Marymount University

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Short answer -- if California had reciprocity (which the Deans admit the Golden State does not have!), then this would not be a problem. You need to bring this up with the California bar, not the D.C. Bar.

Posted by: Andy Patterson | Dec 18, 2020 5:54:07 AM