Paul L. Caron

Monday, May 20, 2024

ABA Endorses Licensing Of Attorneys Without Bar Exams

ABA Journal, ABA Legal Ed Council Gives Its Blessing to Alternative Licensing:

ABA Legal Ed (2023)With more states leaning toward alternative attorney licensing, the council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar on Friday approved a policy shift that now allows states to use methods of licensure beyond the bar exam. ...

The policy change mostly follows a task force recommendation for jurisdictions to create assessments to enable license portability and “innovate in the development of pilot programs, and new competency assessment formats.”

Reuters, Bar Exam Alternatives Gain American Bar Association Backing:

Oregon in November adopted an apprenticeship pathway for law school graduates that does not require taking the bar. Washington followed suit in March, adopting both an apprenticeship pathway and a skills coursework option that bypass the bar exam.

High courts in California, Minnesota and Utah are currently considering proposals to license attorneys without the bar exam. ...

The ABA’s legal education policy statements serve as guidance for law schools, unlike the organization's law school standards, which are rules law schools must follow to be accredited by the ABA. While the ABA controls law school accreditation, it has no authority over new lawyer licensing, which is handled by state courts or other attorney regulatory bodies.

The new policy statement also calls on states to create licensing pathways that “mitigate the disparate exclusion from the profession of racial and ethnic minorities and individuals of low socioeconomic status.”

Exam data shows longstanding racial disparities in bar pass rates. In 2023, white exam takers had a first-time pass rate of 84%, according to ABA figures. That rate was 71% for Hispanic examinees and 58% for Black test takers.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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