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The State Board of Law Examiners’ raising of the minimum bar examination pass score has elicited strong objection from New York’s legal community. Officials of the law board, whose five members are appointed by the Court of Appeals, maintain that the controversial action is a fait accompli, and a spokesman for the state’s high court agreed. The new policy calls for the passing score to increase from 660 points (of a possible 1,000) to 675, at the rate of five points per year beginning in July. But there is talk among lawyers across the state about mounting a challenge to raising the so-called cut score — possibly by asking the Court of Appeals to rescind or delay the law board’s action. Word of the new policy came in the form of a press release issued Friday in Albany. Virtually all opponents — including the New York State Bar Association, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, leaders of specialty bars, and the deans of all 15 state law schools — became aware of the increase by reading a news brief in Monday’s New York Law Journal. The opponents expressed themselves in writing and in person during three public hearings in Albany in February 2003. At each session, the board was asked to drop the idea of raising the score entirely — or to at least delay a decision pending further study and review. Nothing further was heard on the matter until last Friday’s announcement. “We thought silence was golden,” said James A. Beha II, chairman of the City Bar’s Legal Education and Admission to the Bar Committee. On Tuesday evening, the counterpart State Bar committee met in Albany to discuss the law board action “at length,” according to a staff aide who asked not to be identified. The aide described members as “pretty outraged.” In June, the aide further reported, the board met with State Bar committee members but failed to mention the policy shift in its forecast of new initiatives this fall. “It’s very disappointing,” said Beha, a litigation partner at Winston & Strawn. “Both what [the board] did, and the manner in which it was done — with no advance notice.” The board based its policy change largely on three points:

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