Reforms Announced to DE Bar Exam & Admissions Process
The Delaware Supreme Court today announced a series of reforms to the Delaware Bar examination and admissions process based on recommendations made by the Delaware Board of Bar Examiners. These reforms follow a two-year long comprehensive review of the test that is given to individuals looking to practice law in Delaware. Chief Justice Collins Seitz, Jr., says this is not a lowering of standards but a modernization of the process and will keep Delaware competitive in attracting and keeping the top legal talent. Starting in 2024 the Delaware Bar exam will be offered twice a year – in February and July and the cut or passing score will be reduced from a scale of 145 to 143.
Additional information from the Delaware Supreme Court:
Chief Justice Seitz says, “Delaware is the only state to hold the bar exam just once a year. This can frustrate applicants because if they fail to pass the exam, which may be required for them to keep or land a job in Delaware, they have to wait a full year before they can try again,” he said. The Delaware Bar has also long been regarded as one of the most difficult Bar exams to pass in the nation. “The Bar Exam is not supposed to be a barrier to entering the profession but is supposed to be a test of an applicant’s ability
to successfully practice law in Delaware and I believe these reforms will help better reflect that purpose,” he said.
Among the changes to the Delaware Bar exam:
- Going forward the exam will be offered twice a year (currently it is only
offered in July; starting in 2024 it will also be offered in February).
- The “cut” or passing score for the exam will be reduced from a scale of
145 to 143.
- The essay portion of the exam will be reduced from eight essays to four
and the number of topics that could be tested in those essays will be
reduced from 14 areas of the law to 10 areas of the law.
In addition, the Supreme Court also adopted several recommended reforms to the
admissions process for attorneys. Those include:
- A modification of the clerkship requirements, reducing it from a 21-week commitment to 12 weeks.
- A reduction in the “checklist” of activities for candidates – where potential lawyers need to sit in on certain legal proceedings – from a mandatory list of 25 items to 18 out of 30 potential items.
- A reduction in the late application fee from $1,400 for law school graduates to $900, and from $1,600 for attorneys admitted in another jurisdiction to $1,000.
There will also be other internal changes, such as partnering with the National Conference of Bar Examiners in the application process to compile the “character and fitness” application for the Board’s review.
All the changes will go into effect in time for the next administration of the Delaware Bar exam in July.
The Supreme Court order adopting the recommendations can be found here https://courts.delaware.gov/forms/download.aspx?id=183428
The memo to the Supreme Court from the Delaware Board of Bar Examiners can be found on the Judicial Branch publications and reports web page here https://courts.delaware.gov/form/download.aspx?id=183418