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The Supreme Court of South Carolina

RE:   Amendments to Rule 402, SCACR


Pursuant to Article V, § 4, of the South Carolina Constitution, Rule 402 of the South Carolina Appellate Court Rules (SCACR) is hereby amended as follows:

(1) Rule 402(a), SCACR, is amended to read:

(a)  Board of Law Examiners.  

(1)  Members.  The Board of Law Examiners shall consist of members of the South Carolina Bar who are actively engaged in the practice of law in South Carolina and who have been active members of the South Carolina Bar for at least seven (7) years.  The Board members shall be appointed by the Supreme Court for three (3) year terms and shall be eligible for reappointment.  At least one member shall be appointed from each Congressional District.  In case of a vacancy on the Board, the Supreme Court shall appoint a member of the South Carolina Bar to serve the remainder of the unexpired term.

(2)  Chair; Secretary.  The Supreme Court shall appoint a chair from among the members of the Board. The Clerk of the Supreme Court shall serve as secretary of the Board ex officio.

(3)  Duties. The Board of Law Examiners shall determine whether applicants for admission to the practice of law in South Carolina possess the necessary legal knowledge for admission.  The members of the Board are authorized to make rules and regulations for conducting the Examination, including a list of the subjects upon which applicants may be tested and regulations providing for the accommodation of disabled applicants.  These rules and regulations shall not become effective until at least ninety (90) days after they are approved by the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court shall designate six (6) members of the Board who shall each have primary responsibility for preparing and grading a section of the essay Examination (including the preparation of model answers).  For each Examination, the Chair shall assign one of these members to each essay section.  The Board shall assign the remaining members to assist with the preparation and grading of the essay sections of the Examination.

(2)  Rule 402(i)(2), SCACR, is amended to read: 

(2)  Content; Grading; Passing.  The Bar Examination shall consist of seven (7) sections.  Six (6) of these sections shall be composed of essay questions prepared by the Board of Law Examiners.   The Multistate Bar Examination shall be the seventh (7th) section.  To pass the Multistate portion of the Examination, an applicant must attain a scaled score of at least 125.  To pass an essay section, the applicant must obtain a score of seventy (70).  Once an applicant reaches seventy (70) points on an essay section, that section will receive a passing grade and will not be graded further.  An applicant must pass six (6) of the seven (7) sections to pass the Bar Examination; provided, however, that an applicant who receives a scaled score of 110 or less on the Multistate Bar Examination shall fail the Bar Examination without any grading of the essay questions.    The Board shall notify the Clerk of the Supreme Court of the results of the essay sections.

(3)  Rule 402(i)(7), SCACR, is amended to read:

(7)  Prohibited Contacts.  An applicant shall not, either directly or through an agent, contact any member of the Board of Law Examiners or any member of the Supreme Court regarding the questions on any section of the Bar Examination, grading procedures, or an applicant's answers.  This provision does not prohibit an applicant from seeking verification of the MBE score as permitted by (6) above.

(4)  Rule 402(o), SCACR, is amended to read:

(o)  Immunity.

(1)  The Board of Law Examiners, the Committee on Character and Fitness, and the members, employees, and agents of the Board or Committee, are absolutely immune from all civil liability for conduct and communications occurring in the performance of their official duties relating to the Examination, character and fitness qualification, and licensing of persons seeking to be admitted, readmitted or reinstated to the practice of law.

(2)  Records, statements of opinion, testimony and other information regarding an applicant for admission, readmission or reinstatement to the Bar communicated by any entity, including any person, firm, or institution, to the Board of Law Examiners, the Committee on Character and Fitness, or to the members, employees or agents of the Board or Committee, are absolutely privileged, and civil suits predicated thereon may not be instituted.

These amendments shall be effective immediately.

s/Jean H. Toal                                  C.J.

s/Costa M. Pleicones                          J.

s/Donald W. Beatty                             J.

s/John W. Kittredge                             J.

s/Kaye G. Hearn                                  J.

Columbia, South Carolina
November 16, 2012