“Incivility” May Block Law Grads From Admission To The Bar

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“Incivility” May Block Law Grads From Admission to Bar; Part of “Tsunami Of Backlash Against Stanford” Law School

Law Students May Be Denied Admission To The Bar

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 14, 2023) – In a movement sparked by Senator Ted Cruz and likely to spread to other states, law students seeking to practice law in Texas will be required to disclose to bar admission officials whether they have even engaged in “incivility and violations of school policies.” If so, they may be denied admission to the bar.

As Nathan Hecht, the chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court, pointed out in explaining this move: the state “has historically relied on law schools to report disciplinary matters that should be considered in determining an applicant’s character and fitness for admission to the Texas bar . . . . School reactions to recent violations of free-speech policies suggest that reliance is not justified,” so a new question will be asked of all applicants to the bar.

He went on to point out that “Texas lawyers are expected to adhere to the Texas Lawyer’s Creed, promising to ‘treat counsel, opposing parties, the Court, and members of the Court staff with courtesy and civility.’ The admission process should examine whether applicants can be expected to fulfill this promise.”

As the Washington Free Beacon explained, “It’s just one wave in the tsunami of backlash against Stanford, from both elected officials and Duncan’s fellow judges. House Republicans are now pressing the American Bar Association to investigate the law school, saying it is not in compliance with accreditation standards that require it to promote free speech.”

And two circuit court judges, James Ho and Elizabeth Branch, announced this month that they will no longer hire clerks from Stanford Law School, broadening the boycott they began of Yale last year. “Rules aren’t rules without consequences,” Ho said in a speech. “And students who practice intolerance don’t belong in the legal profession.”

The Beacon also noted that “Cruz and Hecht aren’t the only ones looking to leverage the bar against disruptors. John Banzhaf, a distinguished public interest lawyer with a long history of liberal activism, said last month that he plans to file bar complaints against the students who disrupted Duncan, some of whom, such as Denni Arnold, have been identified.”

In response to this victory in Texas, Banzhaf plans to ask other U.S. Senators who share his and Cruz’s concern about violation of free speech guarantees at law schools to make requests, similar to those which triggered this additional scrutiny of bar applicants in Texas, to bar officials in their respective states.