The Iowa Supreme Court held a public hearing August 27 on a “diploma privilege” proposal whereby graduates of the two in-state law schools, Drake University Law School and University of Iowa College of Law, would no longer have to pass a bar examination to become licensed to practice law in Iowa. Wisconsin is the only state to use this system.
Drake University Law School Dean Benjamin Ullem, former dean and law professor Allan Vestal, Drake Student Bar Association President Melanie Thwing, and several Drake Law professors submitted written public comments in support of the diploma privilege proposal by the Iowa State Bar Association “Blue Ribbon Committee on Legal Education and Licensure.”
Ullem, writing on behalf of Drake Law School, said the multistate bar exam does not provide a good test of lawyering ability, that questions are not necessarily based on Iowa law, and are not always linked to real life situations. When students fail the exam, it is “invariably” because of health or family reasons, rather than being a reflection on legal ability, Ullem said.
“The diploma privilege will be based not on several hours of some standardized tests but instead on the student’s abilities crafted through many exams, papers, simulations, practice experiences, internships, clinical hours of monitored client representation, and practice oriented exercises over an intense three years of legal education,” Ullem writes. Students would also be required to take and pass a course on Iowa practice and procedure in their third year to reinforce their knowledge of Iowa law.
To request an interview with members of the Drake Law community, contact Jarad Bernstein, director of public relations and media management at Drake University, email@example.com, 515-271-3119.