Bar Exam

Harvard law grad's suit alleges lack of bar exam accommodations devastated her BigLaw career

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A Harvard law grad alleges she lost her job at Ropes & Gray because she wasn’t granted all her requested disability accommodations the first and second time she took the New York bar exam, causing her to flunk both times.

The June 10 suit (PDF) by Tamara Wyche claims the New York State Board of Law Examiners violated the Americans With Disabilities Act for failing to grant the accommodations she needed for her anxiety and cognitive deficits caused by an accident in an all-terrain vehicle, reports. She passed the bar after she was granted additional accommodations on her third try.

The suit claims the bar examiners have a “fail-first requirement” that “devastated” her career. She has not been able to find work at a large law firm and has been able to secure only temporary positions. “Put simply,” the complaint says, the board’s decisions “have derailed a highly promising legal career.”

Wyche says law examiners initially denied all of her accommodation requests, but allowed extra break time and a smaller testing room when she appealed. She had panic attacks during the first exam and failed. The second time she was given 50 percent additional testing time and a smaller testing room, but denied the extra break time she was given for the first bar exam. She passed on the third try after she was given double time to take the exam, “the full accommodation that she needed and had requested three times,” the suit says.

John McAlary, the executive director of the New York State Board of Law Examiners, is one of the defendants. “Our board is very sensitive to the needs of the disabled, and we’re proud of our track record in providing accommodations,” he told

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