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bar exam application
Feb 8, 1999

I am currently applying to law schools, but am concerned about not being able to sit for the bar because of my HIV status. I have two questions: do state bar assn's conduct medical record surveys of its applicants, and can they refuse to let me sit for the bar? Thanks.

Response from Ms. Breuer

You have a number of questions in this question. First, you are clear, I trust, that your HIV status poses no risk to others at the bar exam. Second, to the best knowledge of an attorney we consulted about this, no bar association asks any questions about physical condition, except to determine whether there are any disabilities that need accommodation during the bar exam itself.

If you have any disabilities that are relevant to sitting for the exam, have your doctor document the need for them without revealing the underlying diagnosis. If the bar wants the underlying diagnosis disclosed, you should review the specifics in your state with a lawyer before disclosing anything further.

This might put your mind at ease: anonymously call the state bar in the state where you want to attend law school by calling from a pay phone so they can't identify the caller and ask point blank what their policy is about both your questions: medical review of prospective bar members and documenting the need for a reasonable accommodation while sitting for the bar exam. If you want the policy in writing, have a lawyer get it from them w/o disclosing your name.

Nancy Breuer

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