Wayne State University: Administrators’ Opposition to Law Students’ Calls for ‘Diploma Privilege’ Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Wayne State University

In July 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Wayne State University Law School emailed students warning them against advocating for “diploma privilege,” which allows qualifying graduates of an in-state law school to gain admission to the state bar without sitting for a bar exam. The email suggested criticizing the Michigan State Bar’s requirements could jeopardize students’ ability to pass the “Character & Fitness” portion of the bar screening, during which state bar officials consider whether an applicant has “the requisite character and fitness” to practice law. The law school independently attests to the applicant’s fitness during this review. On July 13, 2020, FIRE wrote to Wayne State Law School with concerns about the chilling effect its email created and called on the law school to publicly clarify it would uphold students’ First Amendment rights. Three days later, Wayne State Law School affirmed to FIRE that it “ardently supports and will actively defend” its students’ First Amendment and expressive rights.