University of South Dakota to Consider Dropping the Bar

University of South Dakota to Consider Dropping the Bar

SPEARFISH–District 31 legislator, Rep. Mary Fitzgerald, proposed bill HB 1073, which would reinstate diploma privilege. From 1903 to 1957, diploma privilege was active in the state of South Dakota for University of South Dakota Graduates, and again from 1973 to 1983. Since’83, students have been required to take the Bar exam, despite in 2021, when “71% of USD graduates passed the state bar exam, the highest percentage in six years.”

As of 2015, South Dakota was the only state in the nation to use a non-compensatory Bar exam, meaning “that the written and multiple-choice portions are scored separately, with passing scores required for both sections of the test.” Law students began fleeing the state. “Kids are now going to law school in Vermillion, leaving the state to take the bar exam in another state, or they’re not even going to law school in Vermillion,” Rep. Fitzgerald said. “We are 46th in the nation on lawyers per capita, so we really have a huge shortage.”

Rep Fitzgerald’s bill, HB 1073 received 20 sponsors, none of which were attorneys. The bill was introduced to the House on Jan. 18, and it was referred to the state affairs committee on Jan. 19.


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