A Merritt-Orious Path for Lawyer Licensing

29 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2022 Last revised: 28 Mar 2022

See all articles by Carol L. Chomsky

Carol L. Chomsky

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - School of Law

Andrea Anne Curcio

Georgia State University - College of Law

Eileen R. Kaufman

Touro University - Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center

Date Written: 2021

Abstract

More than two decades ago, Professor Deborah Merritt turned her attention to responding to the then-proliferating efforts to raise state passing scores for the bar examination. Writing with Lowell Hargens and Barbara Reskin, two professors of sociology, Professor Merritt challenged the methodology of the studie s that purported to show the need to “raise the bar.” In the process, she presciently raised broader concerns about the validity of the bar exam to assess lawyer competence and the impact of the bar exam on the diversity of the legal profession. In the years since, Professor Merritt has continued to critique the bar exam, and her work has laid a foundation for the work of many others—including the authors of this piece—challenging the validity and adequacy of the current lawyer licensing system.

The reach of Professor Merritt’s work far exceeds the impact of her academic scholarship. She is as concerned with practice as with theory, and her empirical work and her involvement with those advocating for change have been instrumental in both leading and encouraging others on a similar journey. We, like others, have been inspired by her to continue our work to reform the lawyer licensing process. In this Essay, we discuss and expand on Professor Merritt’s groundbreaking work re-envisioning the bar exam and developing more effective alternative licensing methods.

Keywords: Attorney licensing; Bar examination; Threshold concepts; Supervised practice; Clinical education; Minimum competence

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Chomsky, Carol L. and Curcio, Andrea Anne and Kaufman, Eileen R., A Merritt-Orious Path for Lawyer Licensing (2021). Ohio State Law Journal, Vol. 82, No. 883, 2021, Georgia State University College of Law, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2022-07, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4049902

Carol L. Chomsky (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - School of Law ( email )

229 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Andrea Anne Curcio

Georgia State University - College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 4037
Atlanta, GA 30302-4037
United States

Eileen R. Kaufman

Touro University - Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center ( email )

225 Eastview Drive
Central Islip, NY 11722
United States

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