Apparently, there are no Barbri girls in Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin legislature believes that graduates of the University of Wisconsin Law School and Marquette Law School are so well versed in Wisconsin law that it is unnecessary for them to take the Wisconsin bar exam.
According to the Wisconsin Bar Association, opponents of the exemption argue that it creates a disparity in preparation requirements for the Wisconsin bar:
The plaintiffs argue the bar exam is a burden faced by graduates of out-of-state law schools. They note that the fees for admission by bar exam are roughly double the fees for admission by diploma privilege. The plaintiffs allege a disparity of preparation for admission, arguing that the bar examination requires study of all the subjects listed in SCR 40.03 because all are potentially tested, but a Wisconsin law student can graduate without taking classes in all of them. An out-of-state applicant is further hindered in a way the Wisconsin law school graduate is not by the delay created by an exam administered just twice a year, they added.
The exemption does have some advocates, especially at The Daily Cardinal:
But simmering under the legal grounds of the lawsuit is the issue of whether the bar exam in really all that necessary for Wisconsin students. It would seem that a diploma proving you had completed three grueling years of legal study is a better indicator of one’s possible legal success than a single two-day exam. And considering that attorneys educated at Wisconsin law schools are only marginally more likely to be investigated for ethics complaints than other attorneys, it seems there is little statistical need to weed people out using the bar exam.
This Minnesotan is unimpressed.
There is a reason why most states require a law school diploma and a bar examination: competence.
This smells a lot like the loophole that I discovered as a high school student in Florida. In high school I had two options:
- Take AP classes and suffer through a grueling exam in hopes of scoring a perfect "5" because my university might not give me credit for a "4" or,
- Go to the community college in the evenings on my high school's dime and rack up A's that Florida colleges could not reject.
Of course I opted to go to community college. A student who would not get any credit for their AP score of a "3" or "4" could easily earn an A in the comparable community college course, which meant that out of state applicants to my university were grossly disadvantaged. I had a friend who started college with 90 credits through this dual enrollment program, whereas out-of-state students who took a boatload of AP classes typically started with only 20 or so credits, if they were lucky.
Was this unfair? Of course it was.
This in-state favoritism is exactly what is going on in Wisconsin. I’m sure that Wisconsin and Marquette are great law schools, but not everyone that manages to graduate law school is competent to practice. If Wisconsin schools are really that great at teaching their students, then their graduates will do as well on the bar as their Nordic neighbors.