DC Court of Appeals Issues Order Providing for Limited Bar Admission Without Exam

The DC Court of Appeals today issued an order granting, in part, the request included in an emergency petition to allow law school graduates to practice law in DC without taking the bar exam ("dipoma privilege"). On July 16, 2020, a Petition for Emergency Court of Appeals Rule Amendment was filed requesting diploma privilege. The Court received in excess of 500 comments following its July 29, 2020 Notice requesting input from the public.  

"In making this decision, the court carefully balanced a range of public concerns and community responsibilities.  The Court has a fundamental duty to regulate the bar to ensure that members of the DC community have competent, ethical and well-trained attorneys," said Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby.  "We considered that as well as the desire of law school graduates to begin their careers and of course our responsibility to make decisions that protect the health and safety of examinees, proctors, and staff to the greatest extent possible."   

The Court expects to issue emergency rules on Monday, September 28, expanding current provisions allowing temporary practice under supervision and potentially providing emergency exam-waiver admission (referred to as "diploma privilege" by the petitioners) for qualifying applicants.

The Court announced earlier that the bar exam, originally scheduled for July, then September, will be held remotely in October.  The Committee on Admissions reached agreement with twelve other jurisdictions to give examinees reciprocity, which will allow  those who take the DC bar exam flexibility in their employment opportunities and future practices. The Court has committed to releasing the results of the October 2020 remote bar exam by mid-December and completing the character and fitness reviews of successful examinees to permit them to be licensed no later than mid-February 2021, only a few weeks later than they would have been licensed based on a July exam.  Applicants may then perform the oath in absentia upon receipt of certification, or may participate in a virtual swearing-in ceremony on January 27 or February 12, or both.

Exam registrants:  Please note that the Court order changes the deadline to request a refund for the October 2020 Remote Exam from September 15 to September 30.  Applicants may withdraw and request refunds by emailing BarExamRefund@dcappeals.gov.  Applicants who wish to withdraw and credit their fees to a future application, no later than July 2021, may do so by emailing BarExamWithdrawal@dcappeals.gov.   

The order can be found on the Committee on Admissions page of the DC Courts' website: http://www.dccourts.gov/court-of-appeals/committee-on-admissions.

PRESS INQUIRIES - 202/ 879-1705

EXAM-TAKER INQUIRIES - 202/ 879-2700


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