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Public Comment Open for Bar Application Rule Change

The Supreme Court of Ohio is accepting public comment on proposed amendments to the Rules for Government of the Bar of Ohio. The amendments aim to streamline and modernize the attorney application process and expand admission for early professionals and out-of-state attorneys.

One amendment would remove the requirements for applicants to submit fingerprints as part of the Ohio bar examination process. Currently, applicants are required to have their fingerprints taken by a law enforcement agency and submitted as part of the exam registration. Examinees then give a sample fingerprint at the testing location to ensure the person who applied is sitting for the exam. The Office of Bar Admissions recommends replacing fingerprints with a government issued photo requirement during the initial registration process and their identity would be photo-verified at the exam.

Another proposed rule change would expand legal internships. Allowing limited practice by law students who have completed one-third of their legal education and recent law school graduates provides practical experience while filling a need for services in the private sector and public service, including legal aid.

Also open for public comment is a separate amendment to revise the standards for out-of-state attorneys who want to be licensed in Ohio without taking the bar exam. Currently, Ohio rules require an attorney to practice full-time to qualify.  Under the proposal, a part-time attorney could apply if they’ve practiced for at least 1,000 hours a year for five of the previous seven years. The rule aligns with most other states’ admission without examination rules and the American Bar Association.

Attorneys admitted to practice in a U.S. territory, such as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or Guam, would also be eligible to apply for admission without examination, under the proposed changes.

And if an application for admission is held for character and fitness review by the Court, currently the record is under seal for 60 days. Applicants can request to keep their record or portions of the record confidential within that time period. To make the review process more efficient, the mandatory sealing period would be reduced to 30 days, under the proposed changes.

Public comments should be submitted in writing or via email by Aug. 31, 2023, to:

Gina Palmer
Director, Attorney Services
Supreme Court of Ohio
65 S. Front St., 5th floor
Columbus, OH 43215-3431

Please include your full name and mailing address in any comments submitted by email.

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