In light of the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners’ decision to postpone the July bar exam until September, the state Supreme Court on Tuesday said law school graduates who had applied to sit for the exam may “temporarily engage in the limited practice of law,” including advising clients under the watchful eye of a supervising attorney.
On April 28, the PBLE announced the bar exam was being moved to Sept. 9 and 10.
The justices issued an order the same day allowing graduates who were planning to take the July exam to practice in a limited capacity until either the September exam is administered (if they don’t sit for it) or the results of the September exam are announced (if they do sit for it).
According to the order, eligibility to practice as a limited licensee requires having graduated from an American Bar Association-accredited law school with a juris doctor degree and having never failed the bar exam before.
Eligible limited licensees must also have already applied to sit for the July bar exam and must meet the character and fitness requirements of the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners.
The justices’ order also said that limited licensees are required to be supervised by an actively practicing member of the Pennsylvania bar.
The supervising attorney, according to the order, cannot oversee more than two limited licensees and “shall assume personal professional responsibility for ensuring that the 2020 limited licensee’s legal work is competent and compliant with the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct.”
In addition to advising clients, according to the order, limited licensees “may prepare documents on behalf of a client, including documents that will be filed in a court, administrative tribunal or agency of the commonwealth,” as long as they include the supervising attorney’s signature.
The order also allows limited licensees to “appear for any activity subsumed within the practice of law,” as long as their supervising attorney is also present.
In a statement released in conjunction with the Supreme Court’s order and the announcement of the new bar exam dates, PBLE chair David Fine said, “The board believes this order represents an appropriate balance between the need to ensure that the public is represented competently, the particular need for additional lawyers to assist the public in matters related to or arising from the pandemic, and the need for graduating law students to start the careers for which they have worked and invested so much.”
Read the full order: