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Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal

Abstract

This article is the first in the academic literature to examine how a strict application of the childhood history requirement reduces the likelihood that applicants will receive ADHD accommodations on the bar exam based on race, sex, socioeconomic status, location, and age. A significant number of state bars, including in the largest legal markets of New York and California, require the bar applicant to provide a well-documented childhood history of ADHD symptoms. Many of the factors making it impractical or impossible to obtain childhood history documentation disproportionately affect people of minority backgrounds, legally protected classes, and other populations significantly underrepresented in the legal profession, the common state bar requirement of documented childhood history for provision of ADHD accommodations on the bar exam has a discriminatory impact on applicants who are female, members of a racial or ethnic minority, from a lower socioeconomic strata or rural geographic location, and those who are relatively older when applying for bar membership. The consequence of this is differentiated standards for bar exam takers. Such a practice not only is contrary to the mission and key principles of justice, fairness, and access held by the American Bar Association, the body that empowers bar examiners as the gatekeepers to the legal profession, but also exposes state bars to liability and is patently unjust.

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