Governor Terry Branstad is against the idea of letting students from the law schools at the University of Iowa and Drake University work as lawyers as soon as they graduate, before they pass the bar exam.

“As someone that took the bar, I think they ought to take the bar,” Branstad said this morning.

Branstad told reporters he was surprised by the proposal to let law students at Drake and the University of Iowa practice law after they graduate, but before they pass the bar exam. Advocates say graduates can’t start paying off their student loan debt until they are able to practice law and the months between law school graduation and passing the bar are a financial hardship. Branstad sees the bar exam as a worthwhile measure of who gets to practice law and who doesn’t.

“I think this is part of making sure that people are qualified and competent to do the job,” Branstad said.

Branstad is a 1974 graduate of Drake Law School. He actually took the bar exam just before he finished his last batch of summer school classes  en route to earning his law degree from Drake.  While he passed the bar exam on his first try, Branstad had to wait several weeks until he had his law degree in hand before he could be sworn in as a lawyer in Iowa.