Iowa may allow graduates of the state's two law schools to start practicing law in the state before receiving the results of their bar exam.
The Iowa State Bar Association is considering the idea to help young lawyers get started quickly without accumulating more debt. Typically, graduates of the University of Iowa and Drake University's law schools must wait four-and-a-half months after graduation before learning whether they passed the bar exam. During that time, many student take out more loans for living expenses.
Drake Law School dean Allan Vestal says that time is a waste for most students.
The proposal would still require graduates to pass an ethics exam and background check. Graduates would also have to take a class on Iowa laws and court procedure.
The Iowa Supreme Court is considering whether to give law students and recent graduates more authority to provide legal services. Several rules changes are being sought by Iowa Legal Aid and the Office of Professional Regulation as a way to serve more low-income clients.
They would expand circumstances under which students and graduates who are waiting to take the bar exam or receive results could engage in limited legal practice. One change would allow graduates to temporarily practice on behalf of certain organizations and government agencies under supervision.
Another would make clear that students who've completed three semesters or more can represent clients in an administrative contested case proceeding without a supervising attorney present.
The court says it will gather input through March 10th before taking any action.