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Recently, the Arizona Supreme Court amended its Rule 34 allowing law students to sit for the Arizona uniform bar examination in their third year at law school on an experimental basis, effective from January 1, 2013 until December 31, 2015. This experimental step is being hailed as an extremely constructive and positive step taken in favor of law students by all three law schools in Arizona.
While the program is obviously no panacea for law students and the state of legal education, it is still better than no change at all. However, it serves more as a clear declaration by Arizona law schools that they are not going to give up on third-year revenue like Northwest University has, by creating two-year JD programs.
So, let's have a look at what this concession to law students means in reality.
First, and most obviously, Arizona law students would be able to sit for the bar examination before their graduation. The real advantage here is that there would be savings in time, and a new law graduate who has already passed the bar exam can go straight into law practice after graduation.
Currently law students in Arizona who graduate in May, take the test in July and have to wait around until October to learn their fate. In the meanwhile, the student loan burden keeps growing, and new graduates are left unsure of their future. Obviously, there are many employers, including in-house legal departments who are not keen to employ law graduates unless they have passed the bar.
This new experimental project, which is again going to be reviewed in 2015, can ease a little of the burden of uncertainty on new law graduates in Arizona.
However, there are catches.
The first catch is that to be eligible, a student would need to have completed at least 90% of his course.
The second catch is that a law student availing of the opportunity may not take more than two semester hours of classes “during the month of early bar examination testing and the immediate preceding month.”
Which means, by December end, the student must be within at least 12 semester hours for graduation. Accepting that he she takes the allowed two semester hours in January and February, he would have eight semester hours left by the end of February to make things possible.
Of course, students would also have to pay extra for commercial bar review courses.
But to graduate in May and receive your bar results in June is obviously much better than the way the system is now. It saves close to six months of uncertainty or unemployment.
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