NEW YORK, NY – Senator Brad Hoylman (D/WF-Manhattan) released the following statement in response to the granting of emergency diploma privilege for law school graduates by Louisiana’s Supreme Court. As the Chair of the New York State Senate’s Judiciary Committee, Senator Hoylman introduced legislation (S8682A/A10794) with Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon to grant emergency diploma privilege in the State of New York. Louisiana joins Washington, Oregon and Utah, states that have already granted emergency diploma privilege to 2020 graduates.
Senator Hoylman said: “Attempting to administer the Bar Exam in the middle of a pandemic is a disaster in the making, one that worsens every day, and which puts an unacceptable burden on immunocompromised students and on those who could already barely afford the process of becoming a lawyer as it was. Diploma privilege is the easiest and most equitable way to ensure that law graduates are provided a pathway to practicing law in New York. I applaud Louisiana for granting emergency diploma privilege and urge New York to act immediately to extend diploma privilege to our state’s class of incoming attorneys as well.”
On July 16, the New York State Board of Law Examiners canceled the September 9-10 administration of the New York Bar Exam in response to COVID-19 concerns.
While this decision avoids the immediate disaster of potential “superspreader” events at testing sites across the state, the lack of clarity regarding future plans for admission to practice law leaves thousands of law school graduates in disarray.
Senator Hoylman and Assemblymember Simon’s legislation (S.8682-A/A.10794) creates a form of diploma privilege for the duration of the COVID-19 State of Emergency to allow law school graduates to be admitted to practice as attorneys in New York without having to take the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE).