D.C. Activism

Court of Appeals to Decide on Diploma Privilege by September 28

Earlier today, the D.C. Court of Appeals issued an order promising “emergency rules,” to be promulgated by September 28, that will expand D.C.’s temporary supervised practice program and “potentially” provide for diploma privilege for “certain qualifying applicants.” The order also extends the withdrawal deadline for the October exam from today to September 30.

Nearly two months ago, we filed a petition with the court, requesting diploma privilege. On July 29, the court issued a notice requesting public comments on our petition. The court subsequently received over 500 comments, which overwhelmingly favored diploma privilege in both quantity and substance.

Diploma privilege, which the court calls “emergency exam-waiver admission,” is the most equitable, compassionate, and sensible option for admitting new attorneys. It is the only option which fully addresses both the needs of the public and the needs of legal employers and future lawyers. As the health and economic crises drag on, and new crises emerge, the need for diploma privilege is greater than ever.

Because the final emergency rules remain unknown, we encourage applicants to continue preparing for the bar exam as best they can under these highly unusual circumstances. We also encourage bar applicants who were considering withdrawing from the October exam to avoid doing so until the new deadline of September 30.

We are profoundly grateful to the court for carefully considering our petition. We are determined to continue our advocacy, but we trust that, in the end, reason shall prevail.