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Iowa Supreme Court Seeks Public Comment on Proposed Amendments to Rules for Licensing Iowa Lawyers

May 14, 2014
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Des Moines- The Iowa Supreme Court has issued an order requesting public comment on The Iowa State Bar Association's (ISBA) recommendation to allow graduates of Iowa's two law schools to automatically be licensed to practice law in Iowa without taking the Iowa Bar Examination. Under the recommendation, graduates of Drake University Law School and the University of Iowa College of Law would still be required to pass the character and fitness requirement.

The recommendation, called the "diploma privilege," would require amending Chapter 31 (Admission to the Bar) of the Iowa Court Rules. The supreme court believes written comments and testimony at a public hearing will be helpful before considering the ISBA's recommendations. Wisconsin is the only state currently offering a form of the diploma privilege.

The supreme court order also requests public comment on the ISBA recommendation to adopt the Uniform Bar Examination for applicants who would not qualify for the automatic licensing, such as the graduate of a law school outside of Iowa.

Article Photos

The Iowa Supreme Court at the Wieting Theatre in Toledo.

The Iowa Supreme Court has exclusive authority over the admission and practice of attorneys in the State of Iowa. Currently, attorneys in Iowa must have a juris doctorate (J.D.) degree from an accredited law school, be of good moral character and fitness, and pass the Iowa Bar Examination. The three-day bar exam consists of the Multistate Bar Exam (two hundred multiple choice questions), the Multistate Essay Exam (six, thirty-minute essay questions), the Multistate Performance Test (two, ninety-minute questions), and the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (sixty multiple-choice questions).

Any interested organization, agency, or person may submit comments regarding the ISBA's recommendations. Comments sent by email must be emailed to, must state "Bar Admission Process" in the subject line of the email, and must be sent as an attachment to the email in Microsoft Word format. Comments also may be delivered in person or mailed to the Clerk of the Supreme Court, Judicial Branch Building, 1111 East Court Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa, 50319. Any comments received may be posted on the Iowa Judicial Branch website. The deadline for submitting comments is 4:30 p.m. on July 14, 2014. The public hearing is scheduled for August 27, 2014, in the Iowa Supreme Court courtroom. The court will determine presenters at a later date.

The following information is posted on the Iowa Judicial Branch website at

The supreme court order

The ISBA's report and recommendations, including proposed amendments to chapter 31 of the Iowa Court Rules

A staff report providing additional information on the diploma privilege, the current format of the Iowa Bar Examination, and the Uniform Bar Examination.



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