Diploma Privilege Now

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Second-year law student Winn Periyasamy ’22 and alum Mary Kate Cunningham ’20 co-authored an opinion piece for the Gotham Gazette in favor of diploma privilege, for recent graduates of New York’s law schools, due to the postponed bar exam and the pandemic.

The uncertainty surrounding the New York bar exam has been devastating. After the March news, thousands of job offers were delayed or revoked until the September exam date, leaving students without salaries and health insurance, and with far more uncertainty and insecurity. Unemployed graduates were left to job hunt during an unprecedented pandemic. The lack of clarity for recent graduates has left many in limbo, wondering how or when they can pay for rent, food, health expenses, or their pending debt from law school. It also further exacerbates mental health inequities in a field long known for widespread depression and mental health stigma.

The only compassionate and equitable option for New York’s future lawyers right now is diploma privilege.

Under diploma privilege, applicants can be admitted to the bar without taking a bar exam but following successfully graduating from law school and satisfying certain other requirements like passing the New York Law Exam and the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam and completing a “character and fitness” assessment.

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