Must Applicant for Admission to the Bar Graduate from An ABA-Approved Law School ?
In Appeal of Murphy, 482 Pa. 43, 393 A.2d 369 (1978), our Supreme Court addressed the issue of whether the Board of Law Examiners properly refused admission of one applicant to sit for the bar exam and another applicant admission by comity (recognizing five or more years of practice in a reciprocating sister state and good standing).
Both applicants graduated from law schools which were not accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA).
The applicants argued that the "selection of the American Bar Association as the accrediting agency ... was an unconstitutional delegation of judicial authority to a non-governmental body such as the ABA." Id., 482 Pa. at 47, 393 A.2d at 371.
In determining that the Board properly refused admission due to the lack of accreditation of the law schools, the Court stated that it had not delegated any judicial function to the ABA and "Pennsylvania, like every other state in the union, has chosen to avail itself of the results of the ABA accreditation procedure, and accepts and adopts the ABA listing.
The ABA's long-standing concern with the quality of legal education in the United States needs no documentation here." 482 Pa. at 48, 393 A.2d at 372.
The Court went on to explain the credentials of the ABA and then stated:
We see no virtue either in allowing a school unapproved by the ABA to seek independent recognition from Pennsylvania, or in permitting a bar examination applicant to attempt to prove to this Court that his unapproved school does in fact measure up to ABA standards.
Our holding today is in accord with longstanding and unanimous authority which has rejected the non-delegation argument here advanced as well as a host of other constitutional attacks on the requirement that an applicant for admission to the bar be a graduate of an ABA-approved law school. See:
Potter v. New Jersey Supreme Court, 403 F.Supp. 1036 (D.N.J. 1975), Aff'd 546 F.2d 418 (3d Cir. 1976);
Rossiter v. Colorado State Board of Law Examiners, No. C-4767 (D. Colo., filed August 26, 1975) (three-judge Court);
Lombardi v. Tauro, 470 F.2d 798 (1st Cir. 1972) (no unlawful delegation). 482 Pa. at 52, 393 A.2d at 374.