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Woman Misrepresents Disability to Get Extra Time on Bar Exam

By Andrew Lu | Last updated on

You may have heard the law student urban legend: If you claim to have a disability like attention deficit disorder, you will receive more or unlimited time to take the state bar exam.

While you may have contemplated listing your symptoms (such as an inability to sit through an hour-long TV show) as a legitimate disability, most of you probably thought better and sat for the bar exam without any accommodations.

However, that apparently was not the case with 28-year-old Leah Harmuth, who got her law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. Harmuth applied for the California bar and claimed a disability. She received 50 percent more time to take the exam and was allowed to take it in a semi-private room, reports the State Bar of California. She passed the bar in 2009.

Two years later, Harmuth tried to do the same thing in New York -- with less successful results.

The New York bar apparently dug a little deeper into Harmuth's claims for disability accomodation. They found she'd misrepresented the accomodations she'd received for her alleged disability at her undergraduate institution in Pennsylvania.

The exact type of disability Harmuth claimed was not disclosed.

Unhappy with what they found, the New York bar not only denied Harmuth's accommodations request, but they also went so far as to prohibit Harmuth from taking the New York State Bar Exam or applying for admission to the New York bar for two years.

It was through New York's findings that the California bar discovered Harmuth's alleged fraud.

The State Bar of California recommended cancellation of Harmuth's license, and Harmuth has entered into an agreement to cancel her license. No longer eligible to practice law, Harmuth is now pursuing a master's degree in art business, according to Business Insider.

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