Minnesota Admission to Practice Law

Sitting for Minnesota's Bar Examination
Challenging the ABA's Accreditation Monopoly
Licensing laws protect established attorneys from competition by burdening potential competitors from other states with superfluous and costly entry requirements.  These rules limit competition through imposing entry barriers and blocking interstate mobility.   

Minnesota protects its own lawyers from additional competition by requiring attorneys to attend only law schools accredited by the American Bar Association.  This closes Minnesota’s legal market to thousands of qualified attorneys.  For example, attorneys licensed in California or New York—the states renowned for the toughest bar examinations but open to graduates of distance-learning and foreign law schools—cannot even sit for the Minnesota bar examination if they graduated from one of California's 39 state-accredited law schools or a foreign law school.  This includes even lawyers trained in England or in another common-law country.

In April 2009, four attorneys licensed in California and New York petitioned the Minnesota Supreme Court for a change in the court’s rules to allow licensed attorneys who graduated from non-ABA accredited law schools and have passed another state’s bar exam to sit for Minnesota’s bar examination.

In December 2010, in support of the four petitioners, IJ-Minnesota submitted to the Minnesota Supreme Court a detailed analysis of the choke-hold that the ABA has over the licensure of lawyers in the Land of 10,000 Lakes as part of the Court’s review of its admission rules.

The petitioners and IJ-Minnesota are challenging the monopoly that the ABA has over accreditation of law schools.  If successful, they will lower the barriers to entry for lawyers licensed in other states, increase interstate mobility, and expand local access to legal services previously blocked by the parochial use of licensing laws.


Essential Background


Release: Victory for Attorneys in Minnesota’s Legal Market (June 28, 2011)

Client Photo - none available

Client Video - none available

Legal Briefs and Decisions

Download: Revised Supreme Court Order (August 30, 2011)
Download: Decision: New Rules for Admission (June 27, 2011)

Download: Institute for Justice Written Statement (December 27, 2010)


Download: Petition to the Minnesota Supreme Court (April 29, 2009)
Download: Public Comment of Roger J. Magnuson
Download: Public Comment of Ross E. Mitchell
Download: Petitioners' Response to the Minnesota Board Law Examiners' Report and Reccomendation (August 2, 2010)

Case Timeline

Oral Argument:


January 26, 2011

Decision(s): Partial Victory

Key Date:


June 27, 2011


Additional Releases

Op-eds, News Articles and Links

 Article: Reducing Licensing Increases Opportunity Minnesota Lawyer (July 8, 2011)
Article: Licensing lawyers: Open the Door a bit Wider, Minnesota Saint Paul Pioneer Press (January 26, 2011)



Article: Past the Pall of Orthodoxy Penn State Law Review (2007)

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