Bar Exam

Many would-be lawyers are allowed to practice law without exam in Washington state

  • Print

gavel diploma and hat

Image from

Graduates of ABA-accredited law schools who are registered for the July or September bar exam in Washington state can skip the test and still practice law.

According to a Washington Supreme Court order, those would-be lawyers can practice under the diploma privilege if they are registered to take the test for the first time or for a repeated time.

The June 12 order also allows those registered to take the July exam to become a limited license legal technician to practice their craft without taking the test.

The Utah Supreme Court was the first to announce it is allowing some would-be lawyers to practice law without taking the bar exam during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those allowed to practice must have been registered to take the July bar exam and must have graduated from ABA-accredited law schools with first-time bar passage rates of at least 86%.

Those who have failed a bar exam and don’t have a law license elsewhere are not eligible for diploma privilege practice in Utah. The state also requires 360 hours of supervised practice by a lawyer who has practiced law at least seven years, including at least two years in Utah.

Both Utah and Washington say the diploma privilege option is a temporary accommodation.

Wisconsin has long allowed in-state law graduates to practice law in the state without taking the bar exam.

The Washington Supreme Court had initially rejected a diploma privilege proposal, reports. The publication spoke with Seattle University Law Dean Annette Clark, who had asked the court to reconsider.

“I think what really tipped it was the killing of George Floyd and the unrest that happened after that,” Clark told “You take everything the graduates had already been experiencing, then you throw that into the mix. We—the faculty and administration—were hearing from our graduates of the physical and emotional toll that all of this was taking.”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.