April 1, 2020, the Presiding Justices of each of the four Judicial Departments signed a joint statement regarding the postponement of the July 2020 New York Bar Exam.  We covered the courts decision to postpone the exam in an earlier post here.  The joint statement emphasized that the courts are sensitive as to how recent law school graduates are affected by the pause in the admission process and the postponement of the July 2020 Bar Examination, which have been caused by the necessity to reduce public interactions.

The statement assures law graduates awaiting admission that the courts will attempt to resume the normal admissions process as soon as possible in conjunction with promoting public health and safety for court personnel and the applicants. The statement does not provide any specifics as to the options the courts are considering, beyond court personnel working remotely. Nonetheless, it optimistically states that they hope to implement new approaches to address these problems through the use of technology, something which is not the judiciary’s strength. 

The statement is unusual in that it does not involve an enactment of a court rule or official policy. The purpose of the statement appears simply to provide assurance to recent law school graduates and bar applicants.  In these difficult times, this form of reassurance and sympathy, although not a solution, reflects a thoughtful  judiciary that is trying to react to these unprecedented circumstances.   

For law graduates, this pronouncement must be considered in conjunction with the discussions concerning the new date for the July 2020 exam as well as the call for special practice rules that would allow law graduates awaiting admission to practice under proper supervision.  For now, law graduates can take solace that the judiciary has not forgotten or abandoned them and understands the severe economic hardship any delay in admission can cause.