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A graduate of Touro College Law Center in Huntington, N.Y., has won an order allowing her to take the bar exam this week despite a law school policy that would have prevented her from doing so. In Pierre v. Touro College, 11260, Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Joseph A. De Maro ruled that Touro’s refusal to allow W. Marilynn Pierre to sit for the bar examination because she failed a course was arbitrary and capricious. The order also ordered the school to notify the State Board of Law Examiners that Pierre had accumulated the required credits for graduation. Pierre applied to the court for a preliminary injunction after officials at Touro’s Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center denied her requests to notify the Law Examiners that she was certified to sit for the exam. Pierre failed Trusts and Estates — a required course — during her third year last spring and enrolled for the class again this summer. The Law Center adopted a policy in 1999 refusing to certify students who must take a summer course to complete their necessary credits prior to the July bar exam. According to an affidavit submitted by Touro Law Center Associate Dean Kenneth Rosenblum, the policy was adopted, in part, to improve the Law Center’s bar pass-rate. Touro graduates have consistently scored below other law schools in New York state on the bar exam since the Law Center’s inception in 1980. Rosenblum also stated in his affidavit that the policy was primarily adopted “out of a sincere desire to give students the best chance to pass their first time.” But Justice De Maro ruled that a decision to sit for the bar exam after a student has completed the necessary credits should be made by the student and the law examiners, not by the school. “Whether an adult law school graduate is qualified to take a particular bar examination is a matter for the (Law) Examiners,” the order stated. “The decision of a qualified person as to which bar examination to take rests with the adult student.” CALLED ‘DISRESPECTFUL’ Pierre, who holds a master’s degree in social work from Adelphi, characterized Touro’s actions as “disrespectful.” “I felt like they were acting like my parents,” she said in a telephone interview last week. “I’m very angry.” Pierre, who said she feels adequately prepared for the test that starts today, added that several of her classmates have been working this summer in addition to studying for the exam. In her petition filed with the court, Pierre, who graduated with a 2.369 grade point average and passed Trusts and Estates this summer with a grade of D, argued that the policy was not included in the 1999-2000 student handbook and that one student had previously been exempted from the policy. Rosenblum stated that the exempted student, “unlike petitioner” enrolled at the Law Center with advanced standing and that “compelling reasons” justified the exception. REASONS FOR POLICY “The Law Center’s policy is predicated upon its considered judgment that a law student, particularly a marginal law student such as petitioner, cannot be expected to simultaneously complete both his or her law studies and study for the bar examination,” Rosenblum’s affidavit stated. The Law Center also argued that Pierre became aware of the Law Center’s policy when she told Rosenblum after taking the Trusts and Estates final the first time that she was concerned she had failed. Touro’s attorney, Kenneth Kanfer, of Manhattan-based Snitow & Cunningham, said the school is considering whether to include the policy in next year’s handbook. He added that his client will appeal the decision. Pierre, who was allowed to participate in graduation ceremonies last spring, received an extension until July 18 from the law examiners to file a Certificate of Attendance. Justice DeMaro ordered the school to fax a copy of the certificate to the law examiners last Tuesday. Anthony F. Iovino, of Mineola, New York-based Bondi & Iovino, represented Pierre.

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