Wyoming Supreme Court Implements Rule to Address Lawyer Licensing Amid COVID-19 Concerns

CHEYENNE – In response to the uncertainty surrounding the July Bar exam and at the request of the Wyoming State Bar, the Board of Law Examiners and the Character and Fitness Committee, the Wyoming Supreme Court has issued an emergency rule (Rule 203) to allow applicants to the Bar to practice law in Wyoming while their admission is pending. This rule will only apply if the July Bar exam is postponed. Wyoming is a mandatory bar, which means those practicing law in Wyoming must be members of the Bar.

Those applying for membership by exam must do so by April 15, 2020, in compliance with the already-existing Rule 201(a) of the Rules and Procedures Governing Admission to the Practice of Law.

“At this point, we intend to proceed with the administration of the July exam as long as it would be in compliance with public health guidelines,” said Sharon Wilkinson, Executive Director of the Wyoming State Bar and Executive Secretary to the Board of Law Examiners. “However, with so much uncertainty, we felt it was critical to put something in place in the event that the exam does get postponed. We have been in constant contact with the National Conference of Bar Examiners and are monitoring things very closely.” The exam is scheduled to take place July 28-29, 2020, at the University of Wyoming Conference Center in Laramie, Wyoming.

Under the new and temporary rule, those granted temporary admission must work under the supervision of a Wyoming-licensed attorney. They will also be subject to the disciplinary authority in Wyoming and shall comply with all ethics and related rules.

In order to be granted temporary admission under the rule, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Have a law degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association
  • Has not sat for a bar exam in Wyoming or any other jurisdiction prior to February 2021
  • Have passed a background check and been determined by the Character and Fitness Committee to possess the required good moral character and fitness to practice law
  • Not be subject to any attorney discipline in any jurisdiction
  • Not have been denied admission in Wyoming or any other jurisdiction

“We recognize that this is such an uncertain time for those about to graduate from law school,” said Brenda Wylie, a Jackson lawyer who serves as the Chair of the Board of Law Examiners. “While we are sensitive to their concerns about future employment opportunities, we are obligated to ensure there are adequate rules in place to protect the public. We take that obligation very seriously.”

Results of the February 2020 Bar exam are on track to be released this month.

The Bar encourages those following this issue closely to check for updates on its website at www.wyomingbar.org/for-lawyers/admissions/. To see Rule 203 in its entirety, please click here.

Anyone wishing further information should contact Sharon Wilkinson, Executive Director of the Wyoming State Bar, at (307) 432-2102.

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