The COVID-19 pandemic has upended lives and livelihoods across our country and around the world. It has also laid bare the injustice and inequity that is ingrained in many of our systems and caused even greater hardships for people already left behind by our nation’s promise of equal justice for all.
Compounding the challenges many people are facing having the most basic necessities of being safe, healthy, and home, new law school graduates who want to put their time and talent toward helping them can’t move forward because of licensing and bar admission requirements that are unresponsive to the current climate. These graduates are on the cusp of a new legal career and are eager get to work using their education, talent, and passion for public service without delay.
It has been widely reported that bar exams this year have been fraught with challenges and in many cases have perpetuated inequities for law school graduates. Some jurisdictions have implemented diploma privileges and others have recognized diploma privilege with additional requirements. However, there remain jurisdictions that have held fast to systems and requirements that create unreasonable and unnecessary risks for the graduates—and worse, prolong the untenable denial of access to justice in so many communities, especially for Black people and people of color across our country.
The Equal Justice Works community includes law students and law school professionals, public interest lawyers and those who financially support their work, pro bono partners, and the many legal aid and nonprofit organizations that work tirelessly to ensure that the promise of equal justice isn’t an empty one. This community is speaking up in response to the unreasonable burden the bar exam presents this year, and we urge courts and bar examiners to listen.