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New rules for bar-exam accommodations to take effect in August

The Wisconsin Supreme Court recently issued an order creating an appeals process for bar applicants whose requests for special accommodations during the state’s bar exam are rejected.

The court, on its own motion earlier this term, proposed the change.

The court’s current rules require the Board of Bar Examiners, the 11-member body that administers the bar exam, to accept requests for special accommodations until Dec. 1 in any given year for the February exam and until May 1 for the July exam.

The BBE may also reject requests made after those deadlines or requests not made in writing. Sometimes, the BBE may pay a medical expert to review a request.
But the current rules do not explicitly describe the process applicants may use to appeal the BBE’s decisions on their requests.

Under the new appeals process, applicants must appeal those decisions sooner, by Oct. 1 for the February exam and by March 1 for the July exam, according to the court’s memo.

Applicants appealing a decision would be able to petition for a hearing before the BBE’s chair or a board member. Should an applicant be unhappy with the resulting decision, he can choose to petition the Wisconsin Supreme Court for an expedited appeal.

The justices put the matter out for public comment in January, but no one submitted comments opposing or supporting the change. The justices also asked the BBE to weigh in, and the board submitted a letter of support on March 6.

At a closed conference March 21, the justices approved the proposal. The changes take effect Aug. 1

About Erika Strebel, erika.strebel@wislawjournal.com

Erika Strebel is the law beat reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal and a law school student at UW-Madison. She can be reached at 414-225-1825.

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