Utah Supreme Court approves waiving 2020 Bar Exam due to COVID-19


A Special Announcement
From Professor Louisa Heiny and Dean Elizabeth Kronk Warner

On Tuesday the Utah Supreme Court announced that it will grant emergency diploma privileges to the new graduates of the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law and the J. Reuben Clark Brigham Young University Law School, in addition to graduates from other law schools who meet certain requirements. As a result of the Court’s quick action, graduates will not be required to take the July 2020 Bar examination but will instead be allowed to begin practicing immediately.

The decision followed a period of intense public comment after the the Court issued a proposed order on diploma privilege earlier this month. The College of Law worked to actively advocate for the proposal in several venues, including publishing op-eds in The Salt Lake Tribune and The Deseret News.

The announcement is the result of weeks of collaboration between the Utah Supreme Court, delegations from the Utah State Bar, practicing attorneys, the leaders of the two in-state law schools, and academics from law schools around the country. In granting the privilege, the Utah Supreme Court recognized the impossibility of offering a July 2020 exam, as well as the importance of putting new lawyers to work helping those most impacted by the pandemic, providing practicing lawyers help, and giving new graduates the certainty and financial stability that they and their families require.

Graduates who qualify for diploma privilege licensing will work for 360 hours under the supervision of an experienced, licensed attorney. They will also complete the Utah State Bar New Lawyer Training Program and must pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination.

We are proud as Utah law schools to lead the nation in advancing diploma privilege for new graduates in the wake of COVID-19. Many states, including California, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, and New York are actively considering adoption of an emergency licensing privileges. We’re grateful for all the thought, time, and effort that went into this emergency rule, and we look forward to welcoming our new colleagues to the practice of law in Utah.

View the order here »


Louisa M.A. Heiny
Professor (Lecturer)
S.J. Quinney College of Law
University of Utah

Elizabeth Kronk Warner
Jefferson B. and Rita E. Fordham Presidential Dean
and Professor of Law
S.J. Quinney College of Law
University of Utah