Legal Law

Louisiana Declares Quasi-Diploma Privilege

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Like a lot of the South, Louisiana is in the midst of a COVID infection spike. While the governor has responded swiftly and called to defeat the disease with three days of prayer and fasting, the state supreme court opted for a more grounded response when it came to the looming bar exam.

In a narrow vote, the Louisiana Supreme Court just granted a qualified diploma privilege option for many prospective attorneys. All those not covered by the conditions of the order will have the option of taking a remote bar exam.

If an applicant had registered for the July or October exam, graduated either in the Spring or last December from an ABA-accredited school, and not previously sat for the exam, they are eligible to skip the written bar examination. Other requirements such as the MPRE are still required.

Anyone admitted under this provision will have until the end of 2021 to complete the following added requirements:

a. Complete 25 hours of CLE. 12.5 of the credits shall be obtained in accordance with the requirements set forth in Supreme Court Rule XXX(3)(b), and the remaining 12.5 hours may be in any other approved subject matter.
b. Complete all requirements of the Louisiana State Bar Association’s “Transition Into Practice” program.

The Transition Into Practice program is a mentoring program that seeks to provide practical lawyering skills to new attorneys.

This decision generated some amazing dissents that underscore exactly why states like Louisiana are suffering massive outbreaks. A justice declared that canceling the in-person July exam was an “overreaction to the virus.” Another dissenter branded it “gifting a license,” while yet another declared:

This Order labels this free pass as an “emergency admission.” And I ask, “Just what is the emergency?”

Hmm. Where could that emergency be? On June 22, Louisiana’s three-day rolling average of infections was 575. Yesterday, it was 2,667. So, yeah, there’s the emergency.

In fairness, Justice Genovese pivots from this to claiming that there’s no reason to let any of these applicants practice law because there are already enough lawyers in the state by his estimation. He also zeroes in on the canard that because 25 percent of examinees fail the bar exam this order will mean a quarter of these new attorneys will lack competence, which isn’t how bar exam scoring works and it takes very, very little effort to do the research to figure that out.

“There’s no emergency! It’s all an overreaction!” This is what a death cult looks like.

Thankfully, cooler heads narrowly prevailed in Louisiana.

(Full order on next page.)

Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.

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