New Hampshire Two-Year Bar Exam

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Long title: 
A Performance-Based Approach to Licensing Lawyers: The New Hampshire “Two-Year Bar Examination”
Conference location: 
Pierce Law School, Concord, New Hampshire
Country: 
USA
Sponsor organization(s) or institution(s): 
New Hampshire Supreme Court
Franklin Pierce Law School
New Hampshire Board of Bar Examiners
Society of American Law Teachers (SALT)

Five years ago, effective July 1, 2005, the New Hampshire Supreme Court amended its rule on admission to the bar to authorize a performance-based variant of the bar examination “to consist of rigorous, repeated and comprehensive evaluation of legal skills and abilities.” [Rule 42(13).] To be eligible, a candidate must pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination, meet standard character and fitness criteria, and have “successfully completed to the satisfaction of the board of bar examiners the Daniel Webster Scholars Honors Program at the Franklin Pierce Law Center.”

This “rigorous, repeated and comprehensive evaluation” occurs during the second and third years of law school for students participating in the Daniel Webster Scholars (DWS) program at the Franklin Pierce Law Center and is thus sometimes referred to as a “two year bar examination,” which takes the place of the conventional two day paper-and-pencil bar exam. Students in the DWS program are required to maintain a high law school GPA and to complete an intensive curriculum that includes a number of specially designed practice courses as well as at least 6 credits of externship and/or clinical experience. Through their work in this curriculum, students develop an extensive portfolio, including videos of the student conducting simulated interviews, negotiations and components of trial practice. Over the span of these two years, members of the New Hampshire Board of Bar Examiners repeatedly review these portfolios and meet personally with the students to evaluate their progress.

This bar exam alternative, including the DWS program, was designed through a collaborative effort of the New Hampshire Supreme Court, the New Hampshire State Bar, the New Hampshire Board of Bar Examiners, and the Franklin Pierce Law Center. The history and an overview of this initiative is found in the attached article from the November 2005 issue of the Bar Examiner by New Hampshire Supreme Court Justice Linda S. Dalianis and Pierce Law Professor Sophie M. Sparrow. Further detail is available on the web site of the DWS program: www.piercelaw.edu/websterscholar and in the recent law review article by Professor John B. Garvey, who directs the DWS program, and Anne F. Zinkin, permanent law clerk to Justice Dalianis: “Making Law Students Client-Ready: A New Model in Legal Education,” 1 Duke Forum for Law & Social Change 101 (2009), which can be downloaded at:
www.piercelaw.edu/assets/pdf/johngarvey-article-newmodel.pdf

On Friday, April 23, 2010, the New Hampshire Supreme Court, the New Hampshire State Bar, the New Hampshire Board of Bar Examiners, and the Franklin Pierce Law Center hosted a one-day conference for supreme court justices from Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, and Vermont. These justices led delegations that included bar leaders, bar examiners, law deans, and other legal academics interested in learning more about the New Hampshire initiative.

Attachment includes: (1) Conference Announcement, (2) Conference Agenda,and (3) Two articles describing the NH program from the November 2005 issue of the Bar Examiner.

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NH-Conference.pdf1.31 MB