Legal Education

California allows retroactive bar admission with supervised practice

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People who previously flunked the California bar exam but would have passed under a recently changed cut score can now obtain law licenses if they complete 300 hours of supervised practice.

The change applies to test-takers between July 2015 and February 2020, who scored between 1390 and 1439 on the exam, according to a Jan. 28 order from the California Supreme Court. It adopts a proposed rule submitted by a working group of the State Bar of California’s board of trustees.

The state lowered its bar exam cut score in July from 1439 to 1390, following various requests and reports.

Evan Miller, a May 2019 graduate of the Santa Clara University School of Law who helped organize a petition to apply the cut score retroactively, describes the Jan. 28 order as being “much better than anyone could have imagined,” noting that it threw out previously suggested rule changes requiring more supervised practice hours.

“This order is the result of the activism that we have been engaging in since July, when the cut score was lowered. I have no doubts that we would not be here today if we had not advocated for our petition, the letter from all of California’s ABA law school deans, and the California Assembly’s adoption H.R. 103. It is a new day in California, and there is a new class of lawyers here to make change like never before,” he wrote in an email to the ABA Journal.

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