Louisiana’s Restrictive Reciprocal Bar Admission Rule Likely Constitutional

closedA federal district court in National Association for the Advancement of Multijurisdiction Practice v. Berch recently upheld the constitutionality of an Arizona bar admission rule that grants reciprocal admission to lawyers from states providing the same privilege to Arizona lawyers. The plaintiffs contended that the Arizona rule unfairly and unconstitutionally requires lawyers from less friendly states to sit for the Arizona bar examination. The court rejected the argument and held that the rule:

is rationally related to Arizona’s legitimate interest in regulating its bar and seeking to ensure that attorneys licensed in Arizona will be treated equally in states having reciprocity with Arizona.

Louisiana Supreme Court Rule XVII, which governs bar admissions, requires all applicants—every one of them—to “[s]atisfactorily complete the written [bar] examination.” See La. Sup. Ct. R. XVII § 3(F). If that isn’t clear enough, section 11 of the rule provides:

No person shall be admitted to the Bar of this state based solely upon the fact that such person is admitted to the Bar of another state or because the laws of another state would grant admission to a member of the Bar of this state.

Given the rationale of the Berch opinion, it is likely that Louisiana’s more restrictive—but more logically consistent—bar admission rule would be held to be constitutional if challenged.

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