The ABA Journal reports that Iowa may follow the lead of Wisconsin and not require a bar exam for graduates from Iowa's law schools.
"The Iowa Supreme Court will consider a proposal this summer that would allow graduates of Iowa’s two law schools to skip the bar exam if they practice law in the state.The grads would still have to pass an ethics exam, take a class on Iowa law and procedure, and submit to screening."
The Iowa Bar Association says that the idea "is intended to shorten the period between graduation and practice, saving the money needed for living expenses and bar review during that period. The average debt for law graduates is about $95,000 at the University of Iowa and about $106,000 at Drake."
But won't this lower the standards of the profession? Not really. "Iowa State Bar Association President Guy Cook [said] that the bar exam weeds out few grads. Only 6.8 percent failed their first exam between 2008 and 2013, and 62 percent of those who failed passed on their second try or in another state."
Cook went on to say that “[w]hat this proposal really does, at its core, is put more power back into the hands of the Iowa Supreme Court as opposed to some third-party testing service, so that the [court] decides what are the courses that a law student must successfully complete that would make that law student a competent lawyer in Iowa."
That's an interesting take. I wonder how much sway the Iowa Supreme Court currently has in the course lists at the University of Iowa and Drake? Generally, the courses offered correspond with ABA requirements, but this might entice the schools to work more closely with the Iowa Supreme Court (if they don't already). Because I am sure this will entice some potential law students to attend school in Iowa to skip a bar exam.
"Currently, Wisconsin is the only state that allows grads of its law schools to practice law without taking the bar exam—a system known as an in-state diploma privilege."