The Supreme Court of California on Thursday approved a new rule creating the Provisional Licensure Program for 2020 law school graduates, after the COVID-19 health pandemic forced delay of the California Bar Examination.
The court adopted Rule 9.49 of the California Rules of Court, which will take effect November 17. The program will continue until June 1, 2022 unless extended by the court.
The Supreme Court directed the State Bar of California to create the program in a July 16 letter:
“The court recognizes that postponement of the bar examination may impact employment prospects, delay incomes, and otherwise impair the livelihoods of persons who recently have graduated from law school,” the court wrote. “Moreover, the court recognizes 2020 graduates may not be in a position to study and prepare for a fall bar 2020 examination.”
Provisional Licensing Program Details
- Participation will be open to anyone who became eligible to sit for the California Bar Exam between Dec. 1, 2019 and Dec. 31, 2020, either by graduating from a qualifying law school with a juris doctor or master of laws degree, or by otherwise meeting the legal education requirements of Business and Professions Code sections 6060 and 6061 during that period.
- The applicant must have an offer of employment or to volunteer with a law firm, legal services organization, or the legal department of a corporation or government organization prior to applying.
- Once provisional licensure is approved, the licensee can practice in any substantive area of law and provide nearly the full scope of legal services under a supervising lawyer.
- The provisionally licensed attorney will have multiple opportunities to sit for and pass the California Bar Exam, so failure to pass any administration of the exam prior to June 1, 2022 does not end provisional licensure.
A State Bar Board of Trustees working group, chaired by Trustee Hailyn Chen, oversaw the rule development and drafting process. The working group approved the final rule after a 15-day public comment period. The State Bar Board of Trustees submitted the rule for Supreme Court review and approval on September 30.
More information on the program will be available at: www.calbar.ca.gov/Admissions/Special-Admissions/Provisionally-Licensed-Lawyers