Bar Admission

Minn. for First Time Admits Foreign Law Grad Without Requiring Her to Pass Bar Exam

For the first time ever, the Minnesota Supreme Court has admitted a graduate of a foreign law school to practice in the state without first requiring her to pass the bar exam.

JaneAnne Murray, who earned her law degree from England’s renowned University of Cambridge, is licensed in New York and worked there for 22 years at the federal public defender’s office; O’Melveny & Myers; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; and in her own solo criminal defense practice, the National Law Journal reports.

Under Minnesota rules for bar admission, Murray would not have qualified to take the bar exam, the court explains in its opinion (PDF), because they require the applicant to have graduated from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association. The ABA, however, does not accredit foreign law schools.

Citing Murray’s record of high academic and professional achievement (she graduated fourth in her law school class at Cambridge), a supreme court majority held that she had met its high standard for waiving the requirement that bar applicants must have graduated from an ABA-accredited law school. It called her additional request for admission under a rule that allows those with significant practice experience to be granted admission by waiver, without taking the bar, a closer question, but found it would be an undue hardship to require Murray, who moved to be with her family after her husband got a job in Minnesota, to wait for a state law license until next year.

“Ultimately, we conclude that the confluence of several factors related to Murray’s case—a stellar educational record, a long and impressive professional resume, and familial hardship—combine to make her case sufficiently distinctive that we are persuaded to waive the requirement that she successfully complete the Minnesota bar examination,” the court wrote.

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