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Code of Recommended Standards for Bar Examiners


The American Bar Association, the National Conference of                   for staggered terms to ensure continuity of policy, but
Bar Examiners, and the Association of American Law Schools                 there should be sufficient rotation in the personnel of
make the following recommendations to the duly constituted                 each authority to bring new views to the authority and to
authorities in the several states who are vested with respon­              ensure continuing interest in its work.
sibilities and duties in respect to admission to the bar, and to
lawyers and the law schools generally.                               3.	 Conflicts of Interest. A bar examiner should not have ad­
                                                                           verse interests, conflicting duties, or inconsistent obliga­
The Code of Recommended Standards for Bar Examiners has                    tions that will in any way interfere or appear to interfere
been adopted by the policy-making bodies of the ABA, NCBE,                 with the proper administration of the examiner’s functions.
and AALS. An initial Code was adopted in 1959. A revised                   A bar examiner should not participate directly or indirectly
Code was adopted in 1980. Amendments adding the present                    in courses for the preparation of applicants for bar admis­
moral character and fitness standards were adopted in February             sion. The conduct of a bar examiner should be such that
1987; additional amendments bringing the Code to its present               there may be no suspicion that the examiner’s judgment
form were adopted in August 1987, with ABA adoption by the                 may be swayed by improper considerations.
House of Delegates on August 11, 1987. Minor updates ap­
proved by the three cosponsoring organizations were made in          II. Eligibility of Applicants
2011. The recommended standards represent the results of ac­
cumulated study and experience of a number of lawyers, ex­           4.	 Burden of Proof. The burden of establishing eligibil­
aminers, and teachers of high standing. They are offered solely            ity to take the bar examination should be on the applicant.
in the hope that they will afford guidance and assistance and
will lead toward uniformity of objectives and practices in bar       5.	 College Education. Each applicant should be required to
admissions throughout the United States.                                   have successfully completed at least three-fourths of the
                                                                           work acceptable for a baccalaureate degree at an accred­
I. Bar Examiners                                                           ited college or university before beginning the study of law.

1.	 Qualifications. A bar examiner should be a person with           6.	 Law School Education. Each applicant should be required
      scholarly attainments and an affirmative interest in legal           to have completed all requirements for graduation with a
      education and requirements for admission to the bar. A               J.D. or LL.B. degree from a law school approved by the
      bar examiner should be willing and able to devote what­              American Bar Association before being eligible to take a bar
      ever time is necessary to perform the duties of the office. A        examination, and to have graduated therefrom before be­
      bar examiner should be conscientious, studious, thorough,            ing eligible for admission to practice. Neither private study,
      and diligent in learning the methods, problems, and prog­            correspondence study, law office training, age, nor experi­
      ress of legal education, in preparing bar examinations, and          ence should be substituted for law school education.
      in seeking to improve the examination, its administration,
      and requirements for admission to the bar. A bar examiner      III. Moral Character and Fitness
      should be just and impartial in recommending the admis­
      sion of applicants. A bar examiner should exhibit courage,     7.	 Purpose. The primary purpose of character and fitness
      judgment, and moral stamina in refusing to recommend ap­             screening before admission to the bar is the protection
      plicants who lack adequate general and professional prepa­           of the public and the system of justice. The lawyer licens­
      ration or who lack moral character and fitness.                      ing process is incomplete if only testing for minimal
                                                                           competence is undertaken. The public is inadequately
2. 	 Tenure. A bar examiner should be appointed by and be                  protected by a system that fails to evaluate character and
      responsible to the judicial branch of government, and                fitness as those elements relate to the practice of law.
      should be appointed for a fixed term, but should be eli­             The public interest requires that the public be secure in its
      gible for reappointment if performing work of high quality.          expectation that those who are admitted to the bar are
      Members of bar examining authorities should be appointed             worthy of the trust and confidence clients may reasonably
                                                                           place in their lawyers.

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