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The Maryland State Bar Association recently applied for and received approval to sponsor an apprenticeship program for recent law graduates who were unable to, or chose not to, take the first remote bar exam in October 2020. The Maryland Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation (DLLR) unanimously approved the application. 

MSBA will assist law school graduates who have applied and been accepted for the Temporary Special Authorization for Supervised Practice of Law under an order issued by Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera on August 28, 2020. The MSBA will be the connection between the law students and the DLLR, helping the students meet DLLR’s education and reporting requirements.

According to MSBA President Hon. Mark Scurti, the unique program gives the MSBA “the ability to meet the needs of even a small number of people to participate in this program in a structured environment.” Because the program operates in conjunction with the DLLR, the program benefits participating firms by offering funding for apprentice education and tax credit.

Attorney Jonathan A. Azrael, Chairman of the Maryland Board of Law Examiners (MBLE), says the MBLE is “very happy and pleased that the MSBA has provided this resource for law graduates who want to use it for temporary licensing.” He also hopes that the program may lead to opportunities for the participating law graduates to “provide legal assistance to the underrepresented portion of our community and our state.” 

As of this writing, the August 28 Order applies only to graduates who did not sit for the remote bar exam in October, and it remains to be seen whether Chief Judge Barbera will extend the Order for those who do not want to sit for the February 2021 bar exam. In the event that the Order is extended, Judge Scurti urges local law schools to communicate with their December graduates so that they are aware of this opportunity. If the offer is not extended, Mr. Azrael hopes that there will be exploration into other ways the MSBA’s supervision of law students could be used, including the possibility of law students providing legal help to underrepresented individuals.

To date, six law graduates have applied, and two law graduates have been approved for alternative practice licensing.