California Supreme Court considers applying lower bar passage score retroactively2 min read

By- Simran Dadhich

The Supreme Court of California is now retroactively applying a lower bar exam passing score to the February 2020 exam.

The California Supreme Court has already decided to conduct the bar exam online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The exam is to be administered on October 5-6. The court also gave a statement on July 16th lowering the minimum passing score from 1440 to 1390 to ensure that amid coronavirus crisis does not affect the applicants.

After passing of the decision the court is getting a flurry of letters and petitions from law school graduates, deans, and legislators. The letters urge the court to apply the new minimum score rule to the last year’s exam on the ground of equity.

The California Assembly Judiciary Committee Chair, Mark Stone, remarked the court to apply the lesser passage score retroactively to applicants who gave the exam for the bar as far back as 2015.

In a letter, Mark Stone requested to apply the lower score to the last five years of the bar examination.

Stone also acknowledged that the State Bar Council rules permit five year period to be extended if there is good cause, the Court reasonably should also allow for the recognition of older bar examination scores, provided the person appearing can show that they have stayed current in their legal knowledge.

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Court spokesperson Cathal Connelly said in an email that while it “has currently taken no action,” on the letters, the high court is drafting an order related its decision to lower the minimum passing score from 1440 to 1390. The justices also rescheduled the traditionally summer exam for Oct. 5-6 and moved it online.

The next conference for the same is scheduled on August 19th.

Some of the last year’s applicant argued that if 1930 passing score is competent to practice law and get registered in the bar then it also did in the past. The scores of the last five-year examination are sufficient to ensure that applicants are still going to retain much of a knowledge as they demonstrated in the test. Retroactive approach of recognition of previous bar exam scores is beneficial for both law graduates, law aspirants and state as a whole. Retroactive way to calculate the score would be more humane and fair for the law graduates who demonstrated enough of proficiency and knowledge to practice law. Law aspirants, as well as graduates, have suffered these artificial barriers to entry which has harmed them. Moreover, the pandemic has increased the demand of people for legal practitioners it would be helpful for Californians to get more competent and different attorneys to choose as their representatives in courts. Thereby helping the civilians to achieve Justice easily.

The Supreme Court is still following the retroactive application of the lower bar passage score.