Law School Discussion

Correspondence verbiage removed from Texas Bar Requirements

Re: Correspondence verbiage removed from Texas Bar Requirements
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2017, 09:37:38 AM »

2) is referring to non-JD law degrees (LL.Ms, I suppose) which are accredited in the state in which the law school is located.

In either case, I see no provision whatsoever for an unaccredited law school. The TX rules, as far as I can tell, explicitly require at least state bar accreditation.

This does make sense, too. 

However, the second part of #2 (equivalent in duration) couldn't apply to an LLM.  When you go back and see what the verbiage used to be (how the rule was altered) it used to say something to the effect of: "is equivalent to three years of education"... this implies to me that the spirit of #2 is referring to one's first law degree, not ones qualifying post doctoral LLM. 

Your interpretation to #2 does make sense (e.g., "LLM, I suppose") except that it doesn't fit with the second part of the rule, and LLMs are addressed in the Foreign Law Degree section. 

So I'm still not quite clear.

Thanks for sharing and helping. 

Re: Correspondence verbiage removed from Texas Bar Requirements
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2017, 09:53:54 AM »
Sorry, I screwed up. I meant to say LL.B, not LL.M.

LL.Bs are first degrees in law that some law schools used to confer (Harvard, for example) instead of the JD. I think this stopped awhile ago, however. I know a guy who has a Harvard LL.B, but he graduated 30 years ago at least.

In any case, that's the only thing that comes to mind when I read the "equivalent to..." part.

But, even that sentence still refers to the law school being accredited in it's home state AND the degree must be equivalent to a JD. It's not an either/or proposition, so I think we're back to square one. The school must be accredited.

loki13

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Re: Correspondence verbiage removed from Texas Bar Requirements
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2017, 01:55:25 PM »
Let's see.

Rule I(a)(1).
“Accredited” means that a law school is recognized as being qualified by the competent accrediting agency of a state or foreign jurisdiction, by a political subdivision of a state or foreign juris.

Read in pari mutuel with the provision cited, then:
(1) You have to have a degree (but not a JD) from a law school that is accredited in that jurisdiction; AND
(2) The studies must be substantially similar to an ABA ("approved") law school.

If you go here, you will see that Taft (for example) is specifically listed as an unaccredited school:
http://admissions.calbar.ca.gov/Education/LegalEducation/LawSchools.aspx

So I would agree with Maintain- regardless of any intent, the actual wording is clear. While California has specific rules allowing unaccredited schools to have their graduates sit for the Bar, that does not mean those schools are accredited.

In addition, there are other jurisdictions where the state has an accreditation for the law school, but it is not ABA-accredited (or "approved").

That said, there is case law in some jurisdiction (minority) where people have been able to successfully petition the State Bar to take the Bar Exam after they have shown a period of good practice, despite unorthodox credentials. I don't think that this gives you it as a matter of right.

As always, YMMV, and I would contact the Texas Bar for a dispositive ruling on the issue. State Bars are usually happy to help.

Re: Correspondence verbiage removed from Texas Bar Requirements
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2017, 02:44:25 AM »
Thanks so much for the time taken to provide feedback on this.

As I have mentioned, a career as a lawyer is not / would not be the primary goal for me as mental health is what puts food on the table.  So if sitting for the Texas bar isn't possible, I would expect that negative outcome going in.  But it sure would be nice if I was able to argue my interpretation (fyi, I've since shown to two lawyers in person, one read it as I did, the other who read it as Loki/Maintain last interpreted (A degree, but not a JD, as in LLB).  For the record, no American law school that I know of offers an LLB anymore, and it would seem odd to me to put in verbiage to cover for that (especially where none exited before the change in verbiage). 

As time goes on if any others visit this thread, please feel welcome to revive/bump it with updated interpretations. 

Further, I will call the board and ask for additional clarification, and second, even if that clarification is not favorable, and I decide to go with a CA non-Acred, I would of course, still attempt this argument, as there is (as a matter of technical rhetoric) two ways to read the sentence, as written, with no comma. 

I will come back here and report the progress of either/both of those outcomes for others' benefit.

Thanks again!

Re: Correspondence verbiage removed from Texas Bar Requirements
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2017, 11:23:28 AM »

Further, I will call the board and ask for additional clarification, and second, even if that clarification is not favorable, and I decide to go with a CA non-Acred, I would of course, still attempt this argument, as there is (as a matter of technical rhetoric) two ways to read the sentence, as written, with no comma.

Respectfully, I think you're missing the point.

Both sections 1 and 2 explicitly state that the law school must be accredited in it's home jurisdiction. The "equivalent to a JD" argument is irrelevant if the school is unaccredited.

If you genuinely don't intend to practice law in TX, then this may be a fine way to learn about the law. But don't mistake the mistake of thinking that you will be able to successfully petition the bar vis a vis interpretation of the rule. These cases are almost always unsuccessful, as you don't have a right to join the bar. It is at their discretion, and they have not shown (as far as I can tell) any interest in unaccredited law schools.     

Re: Correspondence verbiage removed from Texas Bar Requirements
« Reply #15 on: February 18, 2017, 03:23:07 PM »

Respectfully, I think you're missing the point.

I'm not missing your point, at all.  I understand what you are saying (that there is only one way of reading section two, requiring a jurisdictionally approved institution).  I'm simply disagreeing with you.  I believe there is more than one way in which section two can be construed.  In my mind, this is not simply my opinion, but a technical fact.  "As written, section two CAN have more than one possible meaning."  This is based on the rules of the English language, not my opinion or inability to grasp a point.  Even the one attorney whom I showed in person and disagreed that it was intended to read as I hope, also agreed that it COULD be interpreted more than one way, and if the intent was to require an accredited institution, the rule should be re-written so that it can only be interpreted in one way... remove all ambiguity. 

For example, written like this below, there is only one possible way of interpreting the meaning (your interpretation) based on the proper use of commas:

"(2) holds the equivalent of a J.D. degree, that was obtained from a law school accredited in the state where it is located, and that requires a course of study that is substantially equivalent in duration and substance to the legal education provided by an approved law school."

Using commas, my re-write clarifies three distinct conditions:
1. Must be equivalent of a JD
2. Must be from jurisdictionally accredited school
3. Must be substantially equivalent to approved school


Without commas, there are only two sections:
1. Must be equivalent of: a JD from a law school accredited by the state
       (so could be an LLB, or JD, from any school [acred or not], so long as it is equivalent to one from an accredited school in that state)
2. Must be substantially equivalent to approved school

To be completely unambiguous, the commas MUST be added.  Otherwise it is poor technical writing and can interpreted as both/either meaning.  Its like the classic example, "the million dollar estate was left in equal shares to Sally, Jon, Bob, and Mark" is not the same as "the million dollar estate was left in equal shares to Sally, Jon, Bob and Mark."  The latter comma-less sentence can mean two things (much to Bob's and Mark's dismay).

You're saying something is crystal clear, as written, when as a matter of rhetoric fact, it isn't. 



I do get your point - just don't agree with it.   

But, of course, the purpose of this thread was to gather opinions/discussions/feedback.  So I am genuinely thankful for yours.  It's caused me to re-think this and re-say it many times/ways!