Rule Changes

Mississippi

The Mississippi Supreme Court has granted a petition from the Mississippi Board of Bar Examiners amending the Rules Governing Admission to the Mississippi Bar to limit the number of times an applicant can retake the Mississippi bar exam. The amended rules

  • limit the number of times an applicant can take the exam to three; and
  • require all applicants who fail the Mississippi bar exam three consecutive times to complete at least 12 additional semester hours of regular law school courses at an ABA-accredited law school relevant to subjects covered by or skills needed to pass the exam before applying to retake the exam.

Fulfilling the required additional semester hours of courses allows an applicant to retake the Mississippi bar exam on one additional occasion. To be eligible for further reexamination, an applicant must again satisfy the requirement for additional semester hours of courses; this requirement must be satisfied after each unsuccessful examination attempt in order to make another attempt.

South Dakota

The Rules and Regulations for Admission to Practice Law in South Dakota have had the following changes:

  • An applicant for admission without examination may be eligible if the applicant shows that for three of the last five years immediately preceding the application the applicant has actively practiced law. The prior rule required five years.
  • Effective August 1, 2019, the South Dakota Supreme Court will not grant permission to sit for the bar exam to an applicant who has failed four times in the absence of a showing of exceptional circumstances and a showing that the applicant received a scaled score of at least 125 on a prior Multistate Bar Examination.
  • An applicant who fails the Multistate Performance Test/Multistate Essay Examination/Indian Law Question may review his or her questions and answers following the exam.
  • The fee for taking the bar exam is now $450 (increased from $300), and admission without examination is now $650 (increased from $450).

Tennessee

The Tennessee Board of Law Examiners launched the Tennessee Law Course (TLC) on April 15,
2019. The TLC, a 7.5-hours online course on law specific to Tennessee, is required for applicants seeking admission by examination, by transferred Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) score, without examination (comity), or as the spouse of a military service member. The TLC fulfills the new pre-­licensing requirement adopted by the Tennessee Supreme Court as part of its adoption of the UBE, which requires all applicants for a license in Tennessee to complete an online course on Tennessee law. 

The Tennessee Supreme Court has adopted amendments to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 7, which governs the licensing of attorneys in Tennessee, effective March 29, 2019. The changes reflect a holistic review of Rule 7 but include several substantive changes:

  • Revisions related to the UBE can be found in Sections 3.05, 4.07, and 7.01, clarifying that applicants who failed a Tennessee bar examination are not precluded from admission by transferred UBE score;
    • a UBE score is valid for admission for no more than five years in combination with practice; and
    • foreign-educated applicants who meet the eligibility requirements may transfer in a UBE score.
  • Revisions to the in-house counsel provisions in Section 10.01 include registration of foreign legal consultants and a process for late registration after 180 days. Prior to the changes, the in-house counsel registration provisions tracked the ABA Model Rule. The fee for registration has been reduced from $750 to $600 with a $200 late fee.
  • The law student practice provisions in Section 10.03 were completely rewritten. The purpose of section 10.03 is educational, providing law students options to further legal training. Revised section 10.03 provides a platform for students to participate in quality experiential learning programs under supervision prior to graduation as part of their legal education. The focus of the experiential learning programs remains on helping those who cannot otherwise afford representation but does not include placement in private practice. Unique to Tennessee is a new provision that allows a qualified law student whose permission to practice has expired to participate in a short-term law-school-sponsored pro bono event without seeking re-approval.

The list of revisions above ­represents the more significant changes to Rule 7. The full text of Rule 7 and the Order Amending Rule 7 can be found on the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners’ website at http://www.tnble.org/tn-supreme-court-rule-7.

Texas

The Texas Supreme Court has proposed rules pertaining to its administration of the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) beginning February 2021. The proposed rules authorize the Texas Board of Law Examiners to accept UBE score transfers beginning December 1, 2019. The proposed passing score is 270, and the Court has directed the Board to administer a Texas Law Course that will be required for admission for all applicants who have not obtained an acceptable Texas Bar Examination score before February 2021. The proposed rules were subject to public comment through June 1, 2019.

People

Idaho

Maureen Ryan Braley, who has served as Director of Admissions for the Idaho State Bar since April 2011, is now the Associate Director of the Idaho State Bar. In addition to overseeing admissions, Braley will now also oversee Mandatory Continuing Legal Education and assist the Idaho State Bar’s Executive Director in the planning and leadership of the organization.

Michigan

The Michigan Board of Law Examiners has a new Program Coordinator, Kristina Montemayor.

Bridget Mary McCormack is the new Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court.

Pennsylvania

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has appointed Gerald Lawrence as the new chair of the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners and David S. Rasner as its vice-chair. Lawrence is a shareholder and head of the Pennsylvania office of the law firm Lowey Dannenberg Cohen & Hart PC. He served two terms, including as vice-chair, on the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Rasner serves as co-chair of the firm Fox Rothschild LLP’s Family Law Group. He formerly was chair of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Domestic Relations Procedural Rules Committee.

Two new members have also been appointed to the Board, Leslie A. Collins and Lawrence J. Moran, Sr. Collins, a graduate of Georgetown University’s Law Center, is a staff attorney at the Pennsylvania State Education Association. Moran, a graduate of Villanova University School of Law, is the founder and principal of the Moran Law Group LLC; he is also of counsel to the Scranton-based personal injury firm Lenahan and Dempsey PC.

South Dakota

Reed Rasmussen, a partner in the Aberdeen, South Dakota, firm of Siegel, Barnett & Schutz LLP, has been appointed to the South Dakota Board of Bar Examiners. Rasmussen fills the position on the Board vacated by Neil Fulton, who resigned from the Board when he was appointed dean of the University of South Dakota School of Law.

Texas

Jeff Brown, the judicial liaison for the Texas Board of Law Examiners, has been nominated to serve as a federal district judge in the Southern District of Texas.

Vermont

First by statute and then by rule, the Vermont Board of Bar Examiners has been expanded from 9 examiners and 7 associate examiners to 11 examiners and 8 associate examiners. This expansion of the Board was primarily to eliminate the need for a particular examiner to grade more than one exam essay question. Pursuant to the change in the Board numbers, associate examiners Joslyn Wilschek and Joshua O’Hara were promoted to examiners, and Alycia Sanders, Jonathan Rose, and Sandra Bevans were appointed as new associate examiners.

West Virginia

Katie Capito was appointed by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals to fill a vacancy on the West Virginia Board of Law Examiners. A graduate of Washington & Lee University School of Law, Capito practiced with Dinsmore & Shohl’s Charleston, West Virginia, office from 2011 to 2018 and is now practicing with Hissam Forman Donovan Ritchie in Charleston.

NCBE

Portrait photo of Ken Kraus

Ken Kraus, NCBE Director of Test Operations

Ken Kraus is NCBE’s new Director of Test Operations, replacing Matt Samuelson, who had served in the role since October 2017. Kraus has 33 years of civil litigation experience in Chicago, Illinois, and most recently in Madison, Wisconsin. He earned his J.D., cum laude, from the University of Wisconsin Law School, where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Wisconsin Law Review.