Amidst the uncertainty imposed by Coronavirus, the legal industry, like any other, was forced to make several changes. As an educational field that turned its face against online education, they embraced a complete switch to imparting law lessons online.
However, one of the significant challenges was organizing the bar exams that were responsible for legal careers. In its wake, a few states took the bold step to offer the diploma privilege or eliminate the bar exams altogether. As the debate persists, there have been both support and concern regarding the future of law. So, is it indeed a decision worth considering for the upcoming years as well?
How Effective are Bar Exams?
Every year, in July and February, thousands of lawyers flock to the packed convention centers in the country to attend the Bar exams. Their journey starts with LSAT preparations, another assiduous three years of law school, only to face yet another test that would determine their lives ahead.
The primary objective of this exam is to weed out unqualified lawyers and reduce the chances of malpractice suits. However, according to many, there is little evidence that supports that the exam is effective in its claims.
Even before the consequential decisions of COVID-19, many voiced that a bar exam is not the best measure of a lawyer’s capabilities. Students in accredited institutions study under the guidelines of the American Bar Association and often graduate with high GPAs. It makes sense to offer an exemption to students who can prove a consistent academic performance through college. Additionally, the Bar Exams have not been received for any upgrades or changes in its format.
Moreover, the bar exam does not test anyone’s competence to practice law. If you pass the BAR exam, there is no guarantee that you will be an excellent lawyer, ready to practice. It is a skill that can be acquired through experience.
What’s a Law Degree with BAR Exams?
The Bar exam still has strong advocates, who feel that the test adds a barrier that students should cross to ensure lawyers’ competence. The absence of such an exam would present a higher risk of malpractice claims. There would also be challenges to overcome in setting the standards of the legal profession.
The other best option was the online exams, which did not seem to fare well with the students. Though the States claim that the tests were successfully completed, the applicants did not feel the same considering its pressure.
The alternatives of the “Diploma Privilege” that allow one with a law degree to practice law are not welcome by everyone. The Diploma Privilege plus is even worse, with the condition that students can practice only under a senior attorney’s supervision.
For the time now, it seems like the arguments from both sides will continue. What happens post the pandemic is a question that is left unanswered. The best measure would be to address any gaps in how the BAR exam is administered now. It looks like the system could benefit from an update.