Qualified But Barred

Ohio amends its rules on admission without examination for the benefit of part-time lawyers

Victory for NeW and Part-Time Working Mothers

The Supreme Court of Ohio adopted an amendment that updates the requirements for out-of-state lawyers applying to be admitted to the Ohio Bar. The Network of enlightened Women saw the previous rule requiring full-time work as a barrier to part-time attorneys, including working mothers.

On April 26, 2023, Karin Lips, president of NeW, wrote a letter to Chief Justice Sharon L. Kennedy asking the court to amend Rule I. Section 10 by removing the full-time work requirement for lawyers to be admitted without examination. Effective April 1, 2024, the full-time work requirement will be removed. Under this change, part-time attorneys will qualify for entry to the Ohio Bar without examination, provided they have spent at least 1,000 hours per year engaged in the active practice of law for the relevant time period prior to submission.

Lips said, “I know how regulations like this can create obstacles for women looking for a work-life setup that best fits their family needs. This is a game-changer for part-time lawyers who move to Ohio.”

The Buckeye Institute submitted a public comment in support of this change. David C. Tryon, the director of litigation at The Buckeye Institute and co-author of the comments, said, “Ohio is one of a small minority of states that prevents qualified part-time attorneys—who are practicing in another jurisdiction—from practicing law in Ohio without going through the expensive regulatory burden of taking the Ohio bar exam.”

NeW is committed to expanding opportunities for women.

A Letter From Our President

I am excited to share a victory that we achieved together.

At the Network of enlightened Women, we stand by our belief in Opportunity Feminism. Women should have the freedom to make the best work-life decisions for themselves and their families. Often, that includes part-time work or leaving the workforce. In fact, a majority of women with small children prefer some type of part-time work. When we see policies that limit that opportunity, we speak out.

Ohio was one of a few states that penalized part-time lawyers. Previously in Ohio, lawyers who wanted to be admitted to the Ohio Bar without taking the bar examination were required to have worked full-time to be eligible. As Opportunity Feminists, we know how this can be a roadblock for mothers who have chosen to reduce their hours and practice law part-time while caring for their children.

This is also a great example for our students of how focusing on a local or state change can make a difference. We encourage our leaders to be leaders in their communities.

Please email media@enlightendwomen.org or Karin Lips at karin@enlightnedwomen.org.

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