In the Matter of MARYKATE F. PASCAZI, Appellant,
NEW YORK STATE BOARD OF LAW EXAMINERS et al., Respondents.
Calendar Date: April 26, 2017
Pascazi Law Offices, PLLC, Fishkill (Michael S. Pascazi of
counsel), for appellant.
T. Schneiderman, Attorney General, Albany (Robert M. Goldfarb
of counsel), for respondents.
Before: McCarthy, J.P., Egan Jr., Rose, Devine and Mulvey,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
from a judgment of the Supreme Court (Schick, J.), entered
February 26, 2016 in Sullivan County, which dismissed
petitioner's application, in a proceeding pursuant to
CPLR article 78, to review a determination of respondent New
York State Board of Law Examiners finding petitioner
ineligible to sit for the New York bar examination.
obtained a Graduate Diploma in Law from, and completed a
postgraduate Legal Practice Course at, a university in the
United Kingdom. Relying upon that foreign academic work, she
sought approval to sit for the New York bar examination
(see 22 NYCRR 520.6 [b] ). Respondent New York
State Board of Law
(hereinafter respondent) determined that her education did
not satisfy the requirements of 22 NYCRR 520.6 (b) (1) and
that she was therefore ineligible to take the examination.
Respondent further advised petitioner that she may be
eligible under another regulatory provision (see 22
NYCRR 520.6 [b] ) and invited her to provide information
in that regard.
without doing anything further, commenced this CPLR article
78 proceeding seeking to set aside respondent's
determination. Supreme Court dismissed the proceeding
following joinder of issue, holding that petitioner had
failed to exhaust her administrative remedies by not
requesting a waiver of educational requirements from the
Court of Appeals (see 22 NYCRR 520.14). Petitioner
while the Court of Appeals may waive the applicability of
regulatory requirements, petitioner argues that her legal
education meets the requirements of 22 NYCRR 520.6 (b) (1) in
the first instance. She believes that she is qualified under
the rules, in other words, and if "there is no rule
establishing the purported bar to petitioner's [taking
the examination], the waiver procedure is inapplicable"
(Matter of Anonymous, 78 N.Y.2d 227, 233 ).
Accordingly, a waiver application could not have addressed
petitioner's argument and would have been futile, placing
this case within one of the exceptions to the exhaustion of
administrative remedies doctrine (see Watergate II Apts.
v Buffalo Sewer Auth., 46 N.Y.2d 52, 57 ;
Matter of North Shore Univ. Hosp. v Axelrod, 204
A.D.2d 894, 895 , lv denied 84 N.Y.2d 805');">84 N.Y.2d 805
; Matter of Fahey v Perales, 141 A.D.2d 934,
Court erred in dismissing the petition on exhaustion grounds
but, rather than remitting this matter for Supreme Court to
address the merits, we will address them in the interest of
judicial economy (see Matter of Maldonado v New York
State Div. of Parole, 87 A.D.3d 1231, 1233 ; Matter
of Alamin v New York State Dept. of Correctional Servs.,
253 A.D.2d 948, 948 ). An individual who has studied in
a foreign country may qualify to take the New York bar
examination if he or she meets certain requirements, among
them that the foreign "program and course of law study
successfully completed... were the substantial equivalent of
the legal education provided by an American Bar Association
approved law school in the United States" (22 NYCRR
520.6 [b]  [i] [b]). It follows that the foreign course of
study must be equivalent to a "first degree in law,
" namely, a Juris Doctor degree awarded by an approved
law school (22 NYCRR 520.3 [a] ).
administrative record contains a letter from respondent's
deputy executive director advising that respondent does not
recognize petitioner's course of study as the substantive
equivalent of an American Juris Doctor degree. The
documentation before respondent reveals that its position was
a reasonable one. Petitioner provided further information in
her petition and annexed documents as to why she believed her
education was nevertheless adequate, but those efforts
overlook that "[a] court's review of administrative
actions is limited to the record made before the agency"
(Matter of City of Saratoga Springs v Zoning Bd. of
Appeals of Town of Wilton, 279 A.D.2d 756, 760 ;
see Matter of Levine v New York State Liq. Auth., 23
N.Y.2d 863, 864 ) . Thus, even assuming that the
sur-reply papers submitted by respondents should not have
been considered, "it cannot be said that as a matter of
law [respondent's] action was either arbitrary or
capricious" (Matter of Bruno v LeBow, 95 A.D.2d
731, 732 , affd 60 N.Y.2d 826');">60 N.Y.2d 826 ).
McCarthy, J.P., Egan Jr., Rose and ...