SALT Calls for Emergency Suspension of ABA Standard 316 Concerning a Law School’s Bar Passage Rate

“COVID-19 disruptions to the 2020 bar exam nationwide necessitates that ABA Standard 316, Bar Passage, be suspended.”

The Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) has submitted to the Council on Legal Education a  statement calling for suspension  of the 316 accreditation standard on Bar Passage, in light of the COVID-19 disruptions to the 2020 bar exam nationwide.  The Council is independent from the ABA  and oversees the accreditation of Law Schools.  In 2019, the 316 standard was heightened to require 75 percent of a law school’s graduates who sit for the bar to pass it within two years. 

The SALT statement is cogent and persuasive.  It relies on the following grounds:

  1. Standard 316 presumes as well as relies upon stable, predictable, and regular administrations of the bar exam in all jurisdictions.
  2. The COVID-19 global pandemic has caused significant disruption to the administration of the bar exam nearly everywhere including uncertainty surrounding the provision of test sites and seats for all desiring to take the exam.
  3. The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) reflects the same level of disruption.  For example, for states choosing to use NCBE materials to administer an exam, some “require that out-of-state applicants traveling from out-of-state for the exam self-quarantine for 14-days prior to the start of the examination.”
  4. COVID-19 has created an uncertain environment for nearly every test taker of the 2020 bar exam across the United States, suspension of Standard 316 is a reasonable accommodation and should be adopted.

Reasonable accommodation. Sounds reasonable to me.  Other thoughts?


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