SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – In a federal class action against California courts and the 9th Circuit judicial council, out-of-state attorneys call the requirement that attorneys practicing in California pass the state Bar exam “discriminatory” and “outdated.” The class compares the rules to the situation when “in the 1890s, Homer Plessy, who was 1/8th black, was barred from riding in a ‘Whites only’ train car by Louisiana State law.”
The American Bar Association has said the rules are “anti-competitive, inefficient, drive up the costs of litigation, and interfere with the right to counsel of choice,” according to the complaint. It claims that the ABA has recommended that such rules be eliminated,.
The class claims that the state Bar exam is not a reliable device for measuring an attorney’s level of expertise: “There is no cause-and-effect nexus whatsoever between practice in the U.S. District Courts and this punitive licensing test,” the class claims.
The attorneys say the 9th Circuit has acknowledged that technology has transformed the practice of law and greatly increased the scope of legal practices. What has been left behind is lawyer regulation, the complaint states.
The class claims this case presents “21st century issues,”
“According to the National Conference of Bar Examiners, over 31,000 licensed attorneys have been integrated into the bar of another state from 2002 to 2006 on motion without taking a Bar exam,” but none were eligible for admission to the U.S. District Courts in California, the complaint states.
The attorneys allege violations of civil rights to equal protection and due process. They want the 9th Circuit’s local general admission rules tossed, and they want admission to the Bar of the California District Courts.
The class is represented by Joseph Giannini of Los Angeles.