Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Mashantucket Tribe Does Away with Tribal Bar Exam

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court in Connecticut has stopped issuing its tribal bar exam. The Court, which resides over criminal and civil claims involving tribal members and claims against Foxwoods Casino by non tribal members, will no longer require attorneys to pass a special written exam before being permitted to practice in the court.

Edward Gasser, president of the tribal court bar association, explained to the New London Day that the test had become quite burdensome over the years and lawyers were becoming less likely to devote the necessary time to preparation. As a result, fewer and fewer lawyers were passing the exam; in recent years, only about 50 percent of those taking the test passed. Perhaps because of this difficult entry requirement, only about 150 to 200 attorneys are presently qualified to practice in the Mashantucket court systems. With the removal of the written exam, attorneys who are already admitted to practice in a state and federal court and wish to apply for admission to the tribal bar must pay a fee.  This change is expected to increase the number of attorneys qualified to practice in the Tribal Courts. Currently, the Mohegan Tribe still has a written bar exam attorneys must pass in order to be admitted to practice in the Mohegan Tribal Courts.