CHARLESTON – The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that a man does not meet the educational requirements to sit for the West Virginia Bar Examination.

The matter was before the Supreme Court on exceptions filed by Robert J. Antion to the Board of Law Examiners’ Oct. 4, 2016, decision to deny his application to take the West Virginia bar examination because he failed to meet the educational requirements, according to a recent memorandum decision.

Antion graduated from Concord Law School of Kaplan University, which is not accredited by the American Bar Association and is comprised entirely of an online curriculum.

In 2015, Antion took the California bar examination, but did not achieve a passing score. On Jan. 28, 2016, he applied for admission to practice law through examination in West Virginia and his application was returned, without review, because applications are not accepted before March 1 for the July bar examination. Antion then timely submitted the application.

On March 2, 2016, the board denied Antion’s application based upon his failure to meet the educational requirements, which state it does not permit graduates of law schools providing more than 50 percent of classes as Internet-based classes to take the West Virginia bar examination, according to the memorandum decision.

Following the denial, Antion timely requested an administrated hearing, which was held on May 25, 2016. On Sept. 27, 2016, the hearing examiner concluded that the board’s decision must be affirmed and recommended his application be denied.

On Oct. 4, 2016, the board reviewed the hearing examiner’s report and affirmed the decision to deny the application.

The Supreme Court stated that its focus turned to whether the board correctly concluded that Rule 3.0(b) prohibits graduates of an online Internet-based law school from applying for admission to practice law by bar examination.

“We conclude it did,” the decision states. “Petitioner does not satisfy the general requirements for admission because as a graduate of a law school not accredited by the ABA, equivalency was not met.”

Upon consideration of the applicable standard of review and the record, the court found that the petitioner’s exceptions have no merit and affirmed the board’s finding.

W.Va. Supreme Court of Appeals case number: 16-1002

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