In an earlier post, we covered the Court of Appeals' decision to postpone the July 2020 bar exam as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. When the Court first announced the postponement of the exam, it said that it was aiming to reschedule the exam for some time in the fall of 2020. Today, the Court announced that it is taking steps to hold the exam in "early September, shortly before or after the September 7, 2020 Labor Day holiday."
The Court's full statement is below:
Update on Rescheduling of July 2020 N.Y. State Bar Exam
On March 31, 2020, the Court of Appeals met and decided to seek to have the rescheduled July Bar Examination administered in early September, shortly before or after the September 7, 2020 Labor Day holiday. While every effort will be made to reschedule the Bar Examination in early September, the Court recognizes that logistical and other challenges may prevent administration at that time, which may in turn delay the ability of spring 2020 law graduates to engage in full legal employment. Therefore, the Chief Judge on behalf of the Court will also explore the expansion of authority for practice orders that allow law graduates who meet specified criteria to engage in certain law practice under supervision of licensed attorneys. The expansion contemplated would allow private sector attorneys and law firms, as well as government offices and legal aid organizations, to apply to the Appellate Division for practice orders, and to allow such orders to include law graduates who are awaiting the administration of the first bar examination following their graduation, as well as law graduates who are awaiting results of the Bar Examination and meet the required criteria.
The New York bar exam is one of the most popular in the country and scheduling the exam in the midst of a pandemic is nothing short of a logistical nightmare. For starters, the current social distancing protocols and travel restrictions make any large gathering, such as the bar exam, impossible. Unless the New York State Board of Law Examiners, which is responsible for administering the exam, intends to significantly change the format of the bar exam to allow for remote test taking or administration at smaller test sites, the September 2020 goal assumes that the current social distancing protocols will be modified. In addition, one of the largest test sites for the bar exam is the Jacob Javits Convention Center, which is currently being used as a temporary hospital. If the Javits Center is not available in September, the Board of Law Examiners will need to find an alternate location.
The timing of the next bar exam is of critical importance to both law students and employers. Law students cannot practice until they are admitted and cannot apply for admission until they receive their bar results. Similarly, employers who may be hiring law graduates will need to plan for those individuals to be properly supervised until they are fully admitted.
The New York bar exam is one of the most popular in the country and scheduling the exam in the midst of a pandemic is nothing short of a logistical nightmare.