Program To Let California Law Grads Delay Bar Exam Needs More Time

The State Bar of California wants to give hundreds of in-state law graduates more time to complete a pandemic-era program that enabled them to practice law under the supervision of an attorney, without having first passed the bar exam.

The California Supreme Court has been asked to extend the end date of the program from June 1 to December 31, giving 509 law grads who are still only provisionally licensed a chance to take the bar exam in July, pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination, and complete their supervised practice hours.

“We recognize that many of the challenges the pandemic wrought are still with us, and in some cases program participants need more time and resources to fulfill the program’s requirements,” said Ruben Duran, Chairman of the State Bar’s Board of Trustees.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused havoc with the attorney licensing process in the spring of 2020, when in-person bar exams in many states, including California, were canceled, delayed or moved online. In response, California authorized the creation of the Provisional Licensure Program that fall.

The court expanded the program in early 2021 to apply to those who took the bar exam between July 2015 and February 2020 and scored 1390 or higher but did not pass.

Those who qualify for the expanded program need not retake the bar exam but must complete 300 hours of supervised practice to become fully licensed.

According to a letter to the Court from State Bar Executive Director Leah Wilson, 68% of the 915 law graduates who participated in the initial provisional license program have completed the requirements and are fully licensed. Similarly, 68% of the 671 law grads in the expanded program have been admitted.

But the Bar heard testimony from some program participants who said they need more time to satisfy the criteria for admission.

You can read more about this program here.

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