Bar Exam

California Supreme Court lawyer shares supervised practice idea for unsuccessful bar applicants

  • Print.

california state flag and gavel

Image from

In August, the California Supreme Court announced that a lowered bar exam cut score will not retroactively apply to candidates who previously failed the test.

On Friday, its staff attorney suggested a two-year supervised practice program for those individuals, rather than having them take the bar exam again.

Sunil “Neil” Gupta, principal attorney to California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, was speaking on behalf of himself, not the court, when he shared the idea with the state bar’s provisional licensure working group, the Recorder reports.

In July, California’s bar exam cut score was lowered to 1390. Previously, it was 1440. Gupta suggested the two-year program for test-takers who scored between 1390 and 1439, according to the article.

The Recorder also reports that Gupta told the working group that he didn’t know what the state supreme court would make of his idea. Hailyn Chen, chair of the working group, asked that the proposal be addressed at a future meeting, according to the article.

Expanding provisional licensing is a good idea, but a two-year time period seems too long, according to 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. Miller did not pass the February 2020 bar exam but says he would have if the cut score had been set at 1390.

“Anything that would take more than the period between a bar exam and results would seem to not be a realistic option for most people who may not be able to find a paid position to satisfy the requirement. I would like to see something that is actually feasible, time-wise, versus just going back and taking the bar exam again,” Miller wrote in an email to the ABA Journal.

Updated Sept. 21 at 12:01 p.m. to add the quote from Evan Miller.

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