Paul L. Caron

Thursday, April 9, 2020

With Bar Exam In Limbo, Momentum Builds for Supervised Practice Programs

Karen Sloan (, With Bar Exam in Limbo, Momentum Builds for Supervised Practice Programs:

CoronavirusLaw students across the country have joined forces to lobby state courts and bar examiners to adopt emergency diploma privileges that would allow them to skip the bar exam altogether due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But authorities who oversee attorney admission are beginning to coalesce around a different alternative now that the July bar exam looks unlikely: temporarily allowing law graduates to practice under the supervision of licensed attorneys until they have the chance to sit for the bar.

The move toward expanded supervised practice programs got a boost Tuesday when the American Bar Association’s Board of Governors adopted a resolution urging jurisdictions to cancel the July bar and allow 2019 and 2020 law graduates to practice under supervision until they take and pass the bar exam in 2021. ...

The National Conference of Bar Examiners has said it will decide by May 5 whether there is enough demand from jurisdictions to administer the July bar. In the meantime, it has committed to providing two alternate fall dates for jurisdictions that postpone: Sept. 9 and 10, and Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. ...

Some states are already unveiling expanded supervised practice programs amid the pandemic. The Supreme Court of New Jersey on Monday officially postponed the July bar exam until the fall and announced an expanded supervised practice provision. ... Bar authorities in Arizona and Tennessee have not yet canceled the July bar exam, but both jurisdictions have announced expansions of supervised practice programs. ...

Marc Miller, dean of the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, said Wednesday that he expects more jurisdictions to follow the lead of the early adopters and unveil expanded supervised practice provisions. “I think there’s going to be a national move towards this,” he said, noting that admission authorities seem reluctant to abandon the bar exam completely. “It seems to be the right, clear answer.”

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