Indiana Supreme Court allowing graduates to work as legal interns

Noting the uncertainty over whether the bar exam will be administered in July, the Indiana Supreme Court has issued an order that will allow the law school Class of 2020 to represent clients and do legal work on a limited basis.

The court’s Wednesday order enables law school graduates who have not yet sat for the bar exam to serve as graduate legal interns until the administration of the February bar in 2021. To be eligible to be an intern, the graduates must have completed their J.D. degree after Nov. 1, 2019 from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association and have not sat for bar exam in Indiana or any other jurisdiction.

Under Indiana Admission and Discipline Rule 2.1, the graduate legal intern must be supervised and have all work approved by an attorney licensed in Indiana. However, the intern may interview, advise, negotiate for and represent parties in any judicial or administrative proceedings.

Clients must be told the intern is not a licensed attorney and clients cannot be charged for the services of a legal intern acting in a representative capacity. Also, the supervising attorney is required to be present in any court proceeding.

The order did not postpone the July bar exam. Instead, the court said it would announce its plans about the test by May 8. The National Conference of Bar Examiners will announce around May 5 whether it will be deploying the multistate portions of the bar exam. Indiana incorporates the multistate bar exam and the multistate performance test into the state’s test.

The order noted the continuation of the coronavirus emergency may force the Indiana State Board of Law Examiners to postpone the bar exam for the remainder of the year. In addition, the court noted bar applicants may not have the financial resources or sufficient time to prepare because of the disruptions to personal and professional lives caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more about who COVID-19 is impacting law students and law schools in the April 15 edition of Indiana Lawyer.

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