December 10, 2020 Feature

Diploma Privilege and the Future of the Bar Exam

Annette Clark
After observing the benefits of diploma privilege in Washington State, the author ponders if the bar exam is still the best way to license attorneys.

After observing the benefits of diploma privilege in Washington State, the author ponders if the bar exam is still the best way to license attorneys.

Rattankun Thongbun/iStock via Getty Images Plus

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives and work in ways that were unimaginable only six months ago, as we’ve been faced with illness and death within our families and communities, a health care system that has been strained beyond capacity, the loss of jobs and increasing economic insecurity, anxiety and depression brought on by the fear of contracting the virus and the isolation imposed by our governments in trying to combat its spread, and so much more. For recent law school graduates, add to this demoralizing list the need to take and pass a bar exam in the middle of a public health crisis. What follows is the story of how Washington State responded by granting a diploma privilege.

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