Change of DC bar exam location is bad news for out-of-state law grads

  • A third fewer places available for the July license test
  • Plan to prioritize local school graduates angered law deans

(Reuters) – Registration for the District of Columbia’s bar exam in July opens on Thursday and places are sure to fill up quickly amid a significant reduction in available seats.

The DC Court of Appeals warned earlier this month that the capacity of its attorney license exam would be limited to 1,100 people, about a third less than the number of people who took the last two tests. of July. The court is prioritizing new testers from the district’s six law schools, as well as the nearby Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University.

Applicants from other law schools and repeat test takers can apply for the remaining places on May 18. The court said it expected some places to become available after priority registration ended, but could not predict how many.

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The plan has angered law deans across the country who have called the prioritization of local law graduates “unfair” and asked the court to reconsider, so far without success. More than 100 signed a May 4 letter to the court urging it to find a way to increase the capacity of graduates.

“It is extremely disturbing for them to learn on May 2 that they are unlikely to be able to [take the DC bar]“, wrote the deans, noting that the deadlines for registering for the bar exam in many other jurisdictions have already passed.

The reduced capacity stems from a move to the DC Armory because several other larger sites were unavailable on July 26 and 27, according to a court spokesperson. No site was needed for the July 2020 and 2021 exams as they were held remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The court’s spokesman said Wednesday that officials “continue to research and research all alternative venues” that can accommodate more than 1,100 people, as well as future testing sites of greater capacity. The test has previously been administered at the Walter Washington Convention Center and the University of the District of Columbia.

Washington attracts an unusually high number of bar applicants from out-of-state law schools because of its large and well-established legal market and the concentration of law firms, nonprofits, and of government agencies.

Data from the American Bar Association shows that 25 out-of-district law schools had 10 or more graduates serving the DC bar for the first time in 2021 — numbers that include both the July test and the one of February, smaller. Harvard Law School, for example, had 96 graduates taking the DC exam, while the University of Virginia Law School and Yale Law School had 68 and 47, respectively.

Read more:

Bar exam pass rate plummeted last year for new testers

Racial gap in bar exam pass rates widened in 2021

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Karen Sloane

Thomson Reuters

Karen Sloan reports on law firms, law schools and legal affairs. Contact her at [email protected]


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