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Let 3Ls Take the Arizona Bar Exam

Arizona State University

I saw an awesome story last week – the deans of the law schools at Arizona State University, University of Arizona, and Phoenix School of Law petitioned the Arizona Supreme Court to allow 3Ls to take the February bar exam before they graduate. I think it’s a brilliant idea.

If 3Ls can take the bar exam, they will be admitted to practice so much faster. This was my 3L year and admission to the Arizona Bar:

  • Mid-August – Mid-December: Fall Semester
  • Mid-December – Mid-January: Winter Break
  • Mid-January – April: Spring Semester
  • May – July: Study for & Take the Bar Exam
  • July – September: Wait
  • Early October: Results Out – I passed!
  • November: Recommended for admission to the Arizona Bar (I had to track down a few documents for character and fitness)
  • December: Admitted to the Arizona Bar
  • Total Time: ~15.5 months
University of Arizona

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Here’s how it would work if 3Ls can take the February exam:

  • Mid-August – Mid-December: Fall Semester
  • Mid-December – February: Study for & Take the Bar Exam
  • March – April: Special Condensed Spring Semester – Focusing on Preparing to Practice Law
  • Early May: Results Out
  • Late May or June: Admitted to the Arizona Bar
  • Total Time: ~10 months

When I first heard about this program, I had some concerns, but they were put to rest when I heard that students wouldn’t be allowed to take classes while studying for the bar exam and they will probably have to prove that they’re registered for and have a plan for studying for the bar exam. They also will have to demonstrate that they’re on track to graduate the following May.

Phoenix School of Law

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Taking the bar exam during 3L would be a brutal workload, but a disciplined motivated student could do it. It would suck to fail the February bar exam and turn around and study for the July test. On the flip side, if students pass, they could work in the legal field, take another state’s bar exam, work another job, or relax and travel starting in the summer after finishing law school.

The biggest downside I see to this proposition is that it will be harder for law students to take all the electives they want during school, especially courses that are only offered once every other year, but that can be at least somewhat remedied with an independent study.

I hope the Arizona Supreme Court allows 3Ls to take the February bar exam, at least on a trial basis. The Supreme Court is taking comments on the proposal until May 21st if you want to share your thoughts on this idea.

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3 Comments

  1. Tarl Johnson says:

    I was a bit upset at first because I thought that the proposed amendment only applied to those graduating in May. After reading the actual petition however it was a petition to allow students graduating in August to sit the July bar as well. That makes this an outstanding proposition, otherwise I would graduate in August and have to wait until may just to sit the bar, making my time even longer than yours to get barred.

    1. Tarl Johnson says:

      Sorry. There was a typo. Happens when I haven’t slept in days. I meant to say I’d have to wait until Feb. to sit the bar exam.

      1. Ruth Carter says:

        No worries. I hope the petition is accepted. Best of luck to you!