Efrain Hudnell is something of a unicorn: He’s a May 2020 law school graduate who is already licensed to practice and on track to start his new job this fall as a prosecutor in King County, Washington. Hudnell, a graduate of Seattle University School of Law, was able to bypass the bar exam through Washington’s emergency diploma privilege program—an alternative licensing avenue he and other student bar association leaders from the state’s three law schools successfully lobbied for amid concerns that an in-person bar exam was too risky for some people. Thus far, Utah, Washington, Oregon and Louisiana have adopted emergency diploma privileges amid the pandemic. But thousands of other law graduates are in limbo as they wait either for in-person exams in September or for online tests in October. Some have seen their licensing tests postponed more than once, and the formats drastically altered.
Hudnell is a co-founder of United for Diploma Privilege, a national coalition of law graduates who are advocating for state courts and bar examiners to adopt alternative paths to licensure. Law.com caught up with Hudnell this week to get his take on where the diploma privilege movement stands, why more jurisdictions haven’t gone that route, and why law graduates are angry. His answers have been edited for length and clarity.