Delaware Supreme Court Lowers Bar Exam Score To Be More Diverse

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Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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The Delaware Supreme Court has lowered the passing score for the state’s bar exam in order to increase applicant diversity, according to a Feb. 21 press release from the state judiciary.

The exam, which will now be offered twice a year, will lower its passing score to 143, down two points from 145, the press release reads. The test will also decrease the number of essays, down to four from eight, as well as the number of topics that could potentially show up on an essay question.

The Delaware Supreme Court has also reduced its clerkship requirement to 12 weeks from 21 weeks and cut the number of legal proceedings future lawyers must attend, according to the press release.

The Delaware bar examination board previously underwent a two-year review of the test, and reviewed a report by a court-created committee that focuses on expanding diversity in the legal community, according to Reuters. The report found parts of the state’s licensing process “may be potential barriers to admission to the practice of law for people from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups who may nonetheless be qualified to practice in the State,” the outlet reported.

Chief Justice Collins J. Seitz Jr. said the changes were not about lowering standards, but rather about a “modernization” of the process to become a lawyer. The Delaware Bar Exam is known for being one of the most challenging in the nation, according to the press release. (RELATED: Black Student Satisfaction At Texas A&M Declines After DEI Initiative Implemented, Report Says)

“Delaware is the only state to hold the bar exam just once a year,” Seitz said in the judiciary’s announcement. “This can frustrate applicants because if they fail to pass the exam, which may be required for them to keep or land a job in Delaware, they have to wait a full year before they can try again.”

“The Bar Exam is not supposed to be a barrier to entering the profession but is supposed to be a test of an applicant’s ability to successfully practice law in Delaware and I believe these reforms will help better reflect that purpose,” he continued.

All changes are set to go into effect in July 2023.