Solo & Small Firm

State Bar Launches Provisional Licensure Program Expansion

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February 24, 2021

Applications are now available for the State Bar’s expanded Provisional Licensure Program, a week ahead of the March 1 deadline set by the California Supreme Court. The expanded program is available to individuals who scored 1390 or higher on any California Bar Exam administered between July 2015 and February 2020.

“We are very pleased that those eligible for this expanded program are now able to apply and will soon be able to begin practicing law, at a time when their services are so greatly needed,” said Donna Hershkowitz, Interim Executive Director. “We are grateful to the Supreme Court and the Provisional Licensure Working Group for their leadership in shaping this innovative pathway to licensure.”

The Provisional Licensure Program, directed by the California Supreme Court in response to the immense challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout, launched on November 17, 2020, for 2020 law graduates. The initiative is designed to serve the dual purpose of granting graduates employment opportunities and experience and expanding access to justice by allowing them to begin practicing law immediately. Provisionally Licensed Lawyers can provide a broad array of legal services for clients, provided a qualified attorney supervises the work. The current program allows 2020 graduates to practice before they pass a bar exam. Approximately 470 individuals are currently provisionally licensed. Members of the public can confirm a provisional license using a special search form on the State Bar website.

On January 28, 2021, the California Supreme Court approved the expansion to the Provisional Licensure Program. The expansion enables individuals who scored 1390 or higher—the current passing score—on any California Bar Exam administered between July 2015 and February 2020 to apply for Provisional Licensure, regardless of year of graduation from law school. Those who tested during this time frame can check their eligibility through the State Bar’s Applicant Portal. Additional eligibility criteria are detailed in Rule 9.49, which established the Provisional Licensure Program, and the Supreme Court’s order amending it, and summarized in an FAQ. Once they complete 300 hours of supervised legal practice in the program and fulfill other requirements, participants in this expanded program will qualify for full licensure without retaking the bar exam.

The State Bar estimates that up to 2,000 individuals may be eligible for the expanded program.

Applications for the expanded program must be submitted by May 31, 2021. The program will terminate June 1, 2022, unless extended by the Court.

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