(Reuters) - Washington state will allow law school graduates who are registered to take its July or September bar exam to skip the test and still become licensed, issuing so-called “diploma privilege” because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Washington State Supreme Court Chief Justice Debra Stephens wrote in an order filed Friday that because of “the extraordinary barriers facing applicants currently registered to take the bar examination” in July or September, candidates who graduated from an American Bar Association accredited law school would be allowed to practice law in Washington without ever taking the test.
The state will still offer its July and September tests for students who don’t qualify for diploma privilege, such as a candidate with a law degree from a non-U.S. school, or who want to take the Uniform Bar Exam, a bar exam used by many states that provides a portable score, she said.
Washington is the second state to say it will allow law school graduates who were registered to take the bar exam to skip it because of the pandemic. Utah in April called off its July exam and said it would allow law school graduates to become licensed, but only if they met a long list of qualifications.
Washington’s high court in May said the state would offer a bar exam in July and September with a lower passing score than usual because of the pandemic. It said the state bar could “modify exam procedures to the extent necessary for the safe and effective administration.”
The pandemic has since March prompted several jurisdictions, including New York, Illinois and California, to cancel or postpone their July test until autumn. Last week, Washington D.C. said it would offer its bar in October remotely.