Proposed Rules ArchivesAPR 3 - Applicants to Take the Bar Examination
GR 9 Cover Sheet
Submitted by the Board of Governors of the Washington State Bar Association
Purpose: Adopting this Admission to Practice Rule (APR) amendment will benefit the Washington legal, business and academic communities. The ability of international businesses to operate effectively from Washington, as part of the global economy, depends upon their ability to employ attorneys with comprehensive transnational and international legal knowledge and technical expertise in areas such as information technology, bio-technology and intellectual property rights. Permitting foreign attorneys who have received an LL.M. from an ABA–accredited law school to sit for the bar examination in Washington would remove procedural roadblocks to retaining that expertise within the State.
Washington has a long history and reputation as a center for high quality transnational and international legal education. Although the State’s leading law schools recruit and educate outstanding foreign attorneys in their LL.M. programs, ineligibility to take the Washington Bar discourages enrollment in an LL.M. program in Washington and deters such outstanding attorneys from remaining in Washington after graduation. At present, the admission to practice rules in Washington allow such foreign attorneys to take the bar exam only after completion of the law clerk program or, in the case of common-law trained attorneys, after three years’ practice in their home jurisdiction. The result is that, foreign attorneys who seek to work in Washington State, or who are recruited to do so, typically take the New York Bar Exam, which has an admission rule similar to this proposed amendment, as a prerequisite for employment. The proposed change addresses this anomalous situation enabling this small group of highly qualified, sought-after foreign attorneys. to take the bar examination in the State of Washington.
Most foreign attorneys taking an LL.M. program in the U.S. seek training in U.S. law as well as advanced education in a specialized field such as intellectual property. There is no uniform curriculum for LL.M. programs, but the overwhelming number of LL.M. programs requires completion of mandatory courses such as “Introduction to U.S. Law” and “Legal Analysis and Writing”. Beyond these courses, students typically choose to take, or are required by the law school to take, a range of JD courses in U.S. law such as secured transactions, corporations, antitrust, bankruptcy, sales and administrative law.
The proposed rule change to APR 3 does not seek to prescribe a minimum number of U.S. law courses within the LL.M., on the basis that both LL.M. program design and the realities of practice require foreign attorneys to take more than the minimum required.
Allowing highly capable foreign attorneys with U.S. LL.M. degrees the opportunity to sit for the Washington bar examination would directly benefit Washington business, the legal profession and our higher education institutions. Adoption of these revisions to APR 3 will eliminate what has amounted to an unfair burden on this group of highly skilled and motivated students and practitioners, enabling them to sit for the Bar and, upon successful completion of its rigorous requirements, to practice law and contribute to Washington State.
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