Episode 82: Donna Saadati-Soto and Efrain Hudnell, Co-Founders of United for Diploma Privilege

Among the many ways in which COVID-19 has affected the legal profession, the pandemic’s impact on graduating law school students has been particularly severe. In terms of the bar exam, COVID-19 has brought the need for immediate changes to a test that already has come under fire as a potentially outdated measure of students’ aptitude for legal practice.
In today’s episode, Donna Saadati-Soto and Efrain Hudnell join the podcast. As co-founders of United for Diploma Privilege, Donna and Efrain are advocating for a more thorough understanding of the bar exam’s purpose and efficacy in the modern legal world, and alternative pathways to legal practice—including diploma privilege.
During their discussion with Jack Newton, Donna and Efrain talk about:
  • What diploma privilege is, and the work that United for Diploma Privilege does
  • Why the bar exam is both loved and hated within the legal community
  • How the COVID-19 pandemic has caused different challenges for the Class of 2020, especially regarding the bar exam
  • Why the bar exam’s racial disparities are alarming—and problematic
  • How the legal industry can create more equitable pathways to legal practice in the future
To learn more about United for Diploma Privilege or to get involved, visit www.unitedfordiplomaprivilege.org
Donna Saadati-Soto is a recent graduate of Harvard Law School. During her time at Harvard, she served as a student attorney with the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, heading the immigration practice group.  As a member of the Bureau, she represented an appellant before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in an international child custody dispute. Donna also served as the Executive Editor of the Harvard Latinx Law Review. She is immensely interested in the intersection of immigration, family, and criminal law, viewed through a racial justice lens. Donna holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Stanford University.
Efrain is a 2020 graduate from Seattle University School of Law in Seattle Washington. Originally from “the other Washington” (Washington DC), Efrain graduated from New Mexico State University with his bachelor’s degree in Political Science. After graduation Efrain commissioned as an active Army Officer initially in the Infantry but later in the Military Intelligence field where he served until his discharge to attend law school. While in Law School Efrain sought out multiple opportunities in the public sector such as the Washington Attorney General’s Office, Washington State Senate, and Seattle City Attorney’s Office. Thanks to diploma privilege, Efrain is now a sworn attorney, but is lending his efforts primarily to the United for Diploma Privilege Movement until the fall where he anticipates beginning his legal career as a prosecutor.