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January 28, 2019

ABA House rejects revision of bar passage standard, approves slew of policy resolutions

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 28, 2019 -- The American Bar Association House of Delegates (HOD) rejected today a major change in the bar passage standard for U.S. law schools, sending back to its originator a proposal that would require 75 percent of a law school’s graduates who sit for the bar pass it within two years.

The HOD, the ABA’s policy-making body that met on the final day of the ABA Midyear Meeting in Las Vegas, voted 88-334 against Resolution 105 after a spirited debate in which six people spoke for each side. The proposed change now returns to the Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, which also unsuccessfully offered the proposal to the HOD two years ago.

The resolution topped a full agenda of about 30 resolutions, which included matters of gun safety, immigration and a range of more focused law practice related proposals, such as the “fair use” doctrine of copyright law.

The HOD also passed Resolution 106A, which puts put the ABA on record as opposing laws that authorize teachers, principals or other non-security school personnel to possess a firearm in or nearby a pre-K through grade-12 school. The new policy also urges banning public funds for firearms training for teachers, principals or other non-security personnel or for firearm purchases for those individuals.

It also approved two resolutions that arose out of recent news. Resolution 10B condemns the shutdowns of the federal government for impairing the legal system, and Resolution 10C opposes both the withholding of congressionally appropriated funds for disaster relief and recovery and diverting these funds for other purposes.

Other approved resolutions include:

  • Resolution 109A, which urges the U.S. attorney general to rescind the “Zero Tolerance” and “Operation Streamline” policies that mandate the prosecution of all persons alleged to have improperly entered the United States for the first time, a misdemeanor under 8 U.S.C. 1325; end the practice of expedited mass prosecution of immigrants; and allow for an individualized determination in deciding whether to file criminal charges. 

  • Resolution 109B, which asks federal, state, local, territorial and tribal legislatures to define criminal arrests, charges and dispositions that are eligible for expungement or removal from public view by sealing these records; the proposal also sets out a process for individuals to have their criminal records expunged. 

  • Resolution 101B, which recommends enactment of a rule by the highest courts or legislative bodies of all states, territories and tribes charged with the regulation of the legal profession, as well as by all federal courts, providing for a continuance based on parental leave of either the lead attorney or another integrally involved attorney with certain limitations. 

  • Resolution 106B, which urges federal, state, local, territorial and tribal governments to reduce potential harm that individuals may inflict on themselves or others by enacting statutes, rules or regulations allowing individuals to temporarily prevent themselves from purchasing firearms.

  • Resolution 107A, which calls upon the federal judiciary, Congress and the Department of Homeland Security to enact legislation and adopt policies to protect the privacy interests of those crossing the border by imposing standards for searches and seizures of electronic devices, protection of attorney-client privilege, the work product doctrine and lawyer-client confidentiality.

  • Resolution 107B, which seeks commitments from legal employers not to require pre-dispute mandatory arbitration of claims of unlawful discrimination, harassment or retaliation based upon race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status or status as a victim of domestic or sexual violence. 

All actions on the proposed resolutions can be found here.

With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement on line. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews.