South Dakota Law School Dean has strong stance on the importance of the bar exam

Rep. Mary Fitzgerald of South Dakota proposed a new bill to the South Dakota House of Representatives. The new bill, House Bill 1073, would permit law students into the South Dakota State Bar upon graduating from law school. Fitzgerald believes the bar exam in South Dakota is one of the most rigorous in the United States.

Neil Fulton, the Dean of the Knudson School of Law at the University of South Dakota thinks that the bar exam is beneficial for the United States, and acts as a means to weed out incompetent lawyers from the practice.

“It’s important to remember the exam provides protection to the public,” Fulton said. “The exam is there for people to meet that bare minimum threshold of competence to represent folks on personal conduct, their property, their liberty, those kinds of things.”

Fitzgerald made the argument that law schools put a heavy focus on preparing students for the bar exam, rather than preparing them with hands-on experience in legal practice. Fulton disagreed.

“The bar exam is a high stakes exam, so we definitely invest resources in the third year and in the summer when people are taking the bar exam,” Fulton said. “We work with students on developing the core skills that lawyers need and the core knowledge that lawyers need.”


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