Bar Exam Task Force Eyes September Test, Proposes Practice Waivers

The New York State Bar Association Task Force on the New York Bar Exam released a statement today, in light of the decision to pull the plug on the July administration date, calling for any postponed exam to be set “for a date as soon as possible around Labor Day and prior to the Jewish holidays at the end of September.”

The state can’t necessarily dictate that the NCBE offer a September date, but notes “because of the large number of test takers who take the test in New York, New York can –and should – exert its prominent role in the American legal community to influence the NCBE to offer the UBE in early September.” 

There you go, New York! You’re the legal capital of the country… are you gonna take orders from Madison, Wisconsin? Be the big dog.

As we discussed earlier today, a Fall exam sounds fine in theory, but it may prove difficult to get off the ground if conditions don’t improve considerably by the summer studying season. If the new date proves impossible, the NYSBA Task Force calls for an expansion of the state’s practice waiver system.

Special practice orders allow law school graduates to engage in law practice activities under the supervision of attorneys. New York law presently permits governmental agencies such as district attorney offices, corporation counsels, and legal aid organizations to apply to the Appellate Division for an order permitting law school graduates and law students who meet certain criteria to engage in specified law practice activities.

Because the duration of the coronavirus public health emergency is unknown, the task force recommends seeking the required legislation now that would allow the Appellate Division to extend the special practice orders to private sector attorneys and law firms. The task force report notes that taking such action would expand law school graduates’ opportunities for gainful employment and notes that “The public is protected since the activities of the law graduate are subject to the supervision of a licensed attorney.”

That’s the sort of creative thinking this crisis calls for. Apprenticeship was a viable attorney vetting model for decades in this country — we can give it a little, limited resurgence.

HeadshotJoe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.

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