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Monday, March 30, 2020

Emergency Florida Diploma Privilege

An online petition is calling on the Florida Board of Bar Examiners to extend a "one time, sui generis" diploma privilege to all graduates of ABA-accredited law schools registered for the July 2020 Bar Exam. Such an expanded privilege is one of several suggestions in this multi-author paper about what to do about the Bar Exam in the current circumstances.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on March 30, 2020 at 12:01 PM in Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink


First, we can all agree Florida doesn't need more lawyers. Any job opening for paralegals here has a litany of licensed, experienced attorneys.

Second, not all students who take the bar pass the bar. Some law schools have horrific passage rates, yet under this petition 100% of graduates could practice without supervision of a licensed attorney.

Third is an issue of fairness (in addition to fairness among lawyers who passed the bar) that this petition doesn't include lawyers barred in other states who were signed up for the FL bar because they want or need to move their practices here.

Fourth, the bar isn't simply an exam; it also includes character and fitness components as well.

Fifth, would there be a public designation that "these attorneys did not pass the FL bar exam?" What happens if they lose a case and somebody's appeal relies on ineffective assistance of counsel? Would every defendant get a re-trial as a matter of law? What about in civil cases where an issue wasn't raised and could now be forever barred from appellate review.

The current situation sucks for students signed up for the July exam. But it seems having them wait until September is a far far less burdensome solution than giving everyone an automatic license.

Posted by: marc | Apr 3, 2020 10:01:58 PM

As a former professor at Florida Coastal School of Law, this is a bad idea. I used to have a recurring dream that I was unjustly arrested and informed that I had received a court appointed lawyer, and then one of my FCSL students walked into the room. I woke up in a cold sweat. This is a bad idea.

Posted by: Lucky7 | Apr 3, 2020 2:14:34 AM

IMHO this is just the worst sort of special pleading, using a genuine national crisis as an excuse to avoid a burdensome licensing exam. If no lawyers at all were admitted to the bar in any state over the next year, would anyone notice? Would there be an adverse effect on the public? No and no. Give it a rest.

Posted by: Douglas B. Levene | Mar 31, 2020 4:06:32 PM

I think all of the readers on this blog should read the linked paper and think carefully on its many fine points.

Posted by: thegreatdisappointment | Mar 31, 2020 11:30:38 AM

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