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PROVO, Utah, Jan. 6, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- BYU Law, a leading national law school focused on leadership in the legal profession, today announced that this year's Law and Leadership Conference, January 29, will be a virtual event focusing on "Paths to Bar Licensure" to examine features and shortcomings of the bar examination, which have been underscored by pandemic-related challenges this past year.

"Each year, BYU Law School hosts a Law and Leadership Conference on an issue of current importance inviting leaders to discuss how we might change the world for the better using our legal education," said D.  Gordon Smith, Dean, BYU Law. "Following the historic decision by several states, including Utah, to adopt an emergency diploma privilege in the summer of 2020 and recognizing the known racial, gender, and other biases present in traditional bar examinations, this year's topic is 'Paths to Bar Licensure.' In 2020, a pandemic and global racial upheaval have combined to trigger a reconsideration of bar examinations as the gateway to licensure. We invite everyone interested in learning more about this important topic to join us in this virtual conference, where we will examine the features and shortcomings of the bar examination and other potential paths to bar licensure."

Dean Smith will deliver the opening remarks to kick-off the conference at 9:30 a.m. Mountain Time on Friday, January 29. Joan Howarth, Interim Associate Dean at UNLV Law and author of The Bar: The Justice Case for Attorney Licensing Reform, will deliver the morning keynote to address "A Short History of Attorney Licensing: Tales of Protection, Prestige, Exclusion and Good Faith." The afternoon keynote, titled, "Designing an Evidence Based Licensing System," will be delivered by Deborah Jones Merritt, a celebrated professor at The Ohio State University Law, who has been studying and publishing widely about bar exams for 20 years. In addition, panels comprising leading scholars and administrators will examine criticisms of the current bar examination and alternatives to the bar examination currently working or proposed in various jurisdictions. The conference will conclude with a discussion of Utah's experience with the emergency diploma privilege by graduates and supervisors who were involved.

For more information about the conference, including the schedule and list of speakers, visit:

About BYU Law School
Founded in 1971, the J. Reuben Clark Law School (BYU Law) has grown into one of the nation's leading law schools – recognized for innovative research and teaching in social change, transactional design, entrepreneurship, corpus linguistics, criminal justice and religious freedom. The Law School has more than 6,000 alumni serving in communities around the world. In its most recent rankings, SoFi ranked BYU Law as the #1 best-value U.S. law school in their Return on Education Law School Ranking. For more information, visit  

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