The coronavirus pandemic has upended the legal profession writ large, with law firms going remote, layoffs getting started, law school classes convening online, and commencements canceled. With all of this going on, we wondered if the July 2020 administration of the bar exam would be postponed due to the risk of test takers becoming infected with COVID-19.
Now, New York is about to decide whether it will be possible to administer the bar exam at all, let alone postpone it.
The New York State Bar Association’s (NYSBA) Task Force on the New York State Bar Examination will convene on an emergency basis to determine the fate of this summer’s would-be test takers. From the NYSBA’s press release:
“COVID-19 has profoundly impacted all aspects of the practice of law. Depending on the duration of the crisis, it may not be possible to hold the bar exam this July,” said Henry M. Greenberg, president of the New York State Bar Association. “That judgment needs to be made soon, as graduating law school students are understandably anxious to take their place in this profession and need to know when and how best to prepare for the bar exam. So, we look to the task force to expeditiously give us its best thinking and judgment on this important issue.”
“The task force’s mission requires a great deal of thought, but we must act quickly and decisively,” [task force chair Alan Scheinkman, the presiding justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department] said. “It’s clear now that rising law school students may not be able to take this exam together in New York in July. We must find ways for them to prove their ability to join the profession even if it’s on a provisional basis.”
Recommendations from the task force will be presented during a virtual meeting of the bar association’s House of Delegates on April 4. A decision on the state of the July 2020 bar exam will be announced “as quickly as possible.”
As if law students really needed another thing to worry about right now.
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.
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