California Supreme Court rejects emergency petition for diploma privilege
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California Supreme Court rejects emergency petition for diploma privilege

The California Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a request to allow law school graduates to work as attorneys immediately, without taking the bar exam.

The decision concerned an emergency petition filed on September 9 by Pilar Escontrias and Donna Saadati-Soto, two leaders in the group United for Diploma Privilege and aspiring practitioners in California. The court rejected their petition without a written opinion.

After a summer of anxious graduates awaiting details about a pending remote bar exam, the California Supreme Court in mid-July postponed the scheduled bar exam until October and approved a provisional licensing plan, similar to certification, to allow some law school graduates to practice temporarily before passing the bar.

The petition from United for Diploma Privilege argued that these measures were inadequate and that circumstances had changed since July. The authors pointed out that a number of states adopted diploma privilege after failing to satisfactorily overcome barriers to administering the bar exam remotely.

They urged the California Supreme Court to learn from these examples: “The numerous, recent attempts to administer similar online, high-stakes bar exams utterly failed, proving there is an unjustifiable risk of harm created by administering remote exams that far exceeds the benefits derived or protections gained by the public.”

After this rejection from California’s highest court, the plans for a two-day, remote bar exam in October remain in place.