Clinical Legal Education Association Position on the 2020 Bar Exam

The leading national organization of Clinical Legal Educators – CLEA  today issued a statement about the 2020 Bar Exam.  The statement calls for State authorities to be “pragmatic, flexible and caring” and to promulgate regulations “that expand the availability of legal representation for underserved clients and equitably account for the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on recent law school graduates. ”

The statement poignantly notes

While we are strongly drawn to precedent and tradition, as are all lawyers, we urge that strict adherence to the current model of a single, highstakes, timed bar examination as the primary gatekeeper to the profession will needlessly
exacerbate inequality and further injustice during this pandemic.

CLEA has long critiqued the bar exam and “repeatedly urged that supervised practice and other experiential assessments would much better protect our clients and foster professional excellence.”

The statement elegantly concludes

We must try to better meet the legal needs of underserved groups and respond with care, concern and thoughtful reforms to the very serious challenges those striving to enter our profession face in this unprecedented time of crisis. Let us not look back and regret that we did not give enough attention to the least fortunate among us and let inequality flourish in disaster.

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