D.C. Bar: eliminating admission barriers for foreign law graduates

The D.C. Bar Board of Governors has submitted proposed amendments to certain provisions of Court of Appeals Rule 46, which governs admission of non-ABA-accredited law school graduates, including foreign-educated individuals, to the D.C. Bar.

Under the proposed amendments, graduates from non-ABA-accredited law schools, including graduates of foreign law schools, may qualify for Bar admission by first completing 24 credit hours of additional education, instead of 26 hours under existing Rule 46. The proposal also would allow foreign-educated individuals to complete any amount of the additional credit hours by distance learning from an ABA-accredited law school.

“This proposal, if adopted, would make the District of Columbia the first jurisdiction to specifically allow completion of any amount of the required additional education by distance learning,” said D.C. Bar President Patrick McGlone.

Additionally, the Board of Governors is proposing to change the subject-matter requirement in Rule 46 from all credit hours in subjects tested on the Uniform Bar Examination to six credit hours from a list of specific courses described in Rule 46, six credit hours of subjects tested on the UBE, and 12 hours in elective courses.

“The proposed change to the course subject requirement would balance knowledge of fundamental American jurisprudence with elective courses useful to an applicant’s practice interests,” McGlone said.

Recognising the increasing globalization of the legal profession, the Board believes these changes would help make the D.C. Bar more competitive on the international stage, bringing the Bar in line with other major bars in the United States.

The amendments were first explored by the D.C. Bar Global Legal Practice Task Force beginning in September 2014 and were approved by the Board of Governors on February 15.  Read the Task Force’s final report to the Bar’s Board of Governors, setting forth its final recommendations to amend Rule 46.

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