Colorado Supreme Court Updates Bar Exam Guidelines In Response To Law Students’ Petition

Pat Mack/CPR News
The Colorado Supreme Court building at 2 E. 14th Ave. in Denver.

The Colorado Supreme Court announced updated protocols to the upcoming bar exam in response to a group of law students advocating to cancel the test due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the new guidelines, law students will be able to transfer their applications for the July exam to the February test date and apply to be eligible for limited, supervised practice. 

Dana Steiner, a recent graduate of The University of Colorado Law School, said the changes aren’t enough.

“It didn't appear that the court or the Office of Attorney Admissions had actually taken time to consider our requests and our grievances because it came out so quickly," Steiner said.

Recent grads have been specifically advocating for diploma privilege, which would allow prospective lawyers to fully practice law in Colorado without taking an exam. They said holding an in-person exam during a global pandemic is worrisome and irresponsible. 

Last week, Steiner and their colleagues sent Supreme Court members a letter requesting the bar exam be canceled, as well as dozens of anonymous testimonials detailing how the pandemic has personally affected them.

Jessica Yates with the Office of Attorney Admission said her office is sympathetic to law students beginning their careers during the uncertainty of the COVID-19 era. However, she said it is important to her office to test competency through a bar exam.

“We also are cognizant of our obligation to ensure that our licensed attorneys have basic competencies that would allow them to do the things we trust attorneys to do — such as defending an accused in a criminal case, helping someone with their child custody proceedings, or drafting a will,” Yates said in an email. 

Steiner said their group plans to continue advocating for diploma privilege by directly contacting members and staff of the Supreme Court.

The Colorado bar exam is currently scheduled for July 28 to July 29 in Denver and Boulder.