Monday, May 17, 2021
The District of Columbia Court of Appeals has adopted significant amendments to its rules governing bar admission
On February 10, 2021, the court sent out a notice seeking public comment as to whether the court should make those emergency amendments permanent. The court also sought public comment as to whether the court should amend Rule 46 in other respects, including: (1) eliminating the provision allowing admission to the D.C. Bar based on attaining a 133 on the Multistate Bar Examination plus being admitted to another bar; (2) reducing the period for admission based on membership in another bar to three (rather than five) years; (3) including a list of character and fitness requirements; and (4) specifying that an applicant may sit for the bar examination if the applicant has completed all requirements for the J.D. degree from an ABA-approved law school, even if the degree will not be conferred until up to three months after the first day of the examination.
After considering the public comments it has received, the court has decided to adopt the amendments at issue. Also in response to those comments, the court has determined to make two further changes to Rule 46. First, the elimination of the provision allowing admission to the D.C. Bar for attorneys who are licensed in another jurisdiction based on attaining a 133 on the Multistate Bar Examination will be prospective: examinees who earn at least a 133 on the MBE administered in July 2021, or who earned at least a 133 on an MBE administered on an earlier date, will have until March 31, 2022, to seek admission to the D.C. Bar based on that score after being admitted in another jurisdiction. Second, Rule 46 will now explicitly address whether remote instruction is permissible for applicants who did not graduate from an ABA-approved law school and who seek admission to the D.C. Bar based in part on having taken 26 hours of qualifying classes from an ABA-approved law school. As amended, the Rule will permit such remote instruction as long as the instruction meets the definition of “distance education course” set out in the American Bar Association Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools.