Paul L. Caron

Friday, July 24, 2020

Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Ohio Shift To Online Bar Exam

Connecticut Law Tribune, Connecticut Reschedules Bar Exam Again—Now Online Only:

Following a four-hour Zoom meeting Thursday, the Connecticut Bar Examining Committee announced it would once again reschedule the 2020 bar exam.

The committee announced during the meeting, with about 85 people attending, that the bar examination slated for Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 in Hartford would be pushed back to an online-only format on Oct. 5-6.

Georgia Supreme Court Office of Bar Admissions, Online Test Will Replace In-Person Georgia Bar Exam:

The Supreme Court of Georgia canceled the in-person Georgia bar examination that was scheduled for September 9-10, 2020 at the Georgia International Convention Center. Due to public health concerns during the pandemic, an online exam will be administered October 5-6, 2020 in its place. At that time, applicants will have the opportunity to take the test for licensure to practice law in Georgia.  Details about the registration for the October online licensure exam will be made available on Monday, July 27, 2020 on our website.  

Illinois Bar Admissions, Illinois Bar Exam to be Held Remotely Oct. 5- 6; In-Person Exam Set For Sept. 9-10 Cancelled:

The Illinois Supreme Court announced today that due to continuing public health concerns raised by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Illinois in-person bar examination scheduled for September 9-10, 2020, has been cancelled. In its place, the Illinois Board of Admissions to the Bar will offer a remote version of the exam on October 5-6, 2020, using questions prepared by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. This exam will satisfy the requirements of Illinois Supreme Court Rules 701 and 704.

New York Court of Appeals, Bar Examination Update (July 23, 2020):

Over the past several months, the Board of Law Examiners worked to achieve a safe administration of the Uniform Bar Examination on September 9-10. However, on July 16, having determined that the plan for a socially-distanced in-person examination, developed with the support and generosity of the New York law school deans, had become impractical, the Board made the difficult decision to cancel the September administration of the exam. Because public health conditions across the country have not adequately abated and the pandemic remains an active and ongoing threat to public health in a growing number of states, at this juncture an in-person examination is not a viable option.

In anticipation of this possibility, working with the Presiding Justices of the Appellate Division, the Court of Appeals developed a temporary practice authorization program permitting eligible law school graduates to engage in the supervised practice of law, which is now up and running in each of the Appellate Division Departments. Additionally, Chief Judge DiFiore assembled a Working Group, chaired by retired Court of Appeals Judge Howard A. Levine, to study the future of the bar exam in New York. As its first undertaking, members of the Working Group were tasked with studying whether immediate, emergency measures are necessary to address the disruption experienced by aspiring attorneys in New York. Under the leadership of Judge Levine, the Working Group has issued a comprehensive report and several recommendations addressing these urgent issues.

Initially, the Working Group evaluated the necessity of alternative pathways to licensure, noting the availability of the temporary practice authorization program and expressing a preference to postpone examination until February 2021. But this alternative was rejected because of the uncertainty associated with holding an in-person examination at that time. Ultimately, in light of the exigencies presented by the pandemic, the Working Group recommended that New York administer, on a one-time basis, the emergency remote testing option to be offered by the NCBE on October 5-6. While acknowledging the shortcomings of the remote exam – including its experimental nature – the Working Group, in consultation with technology, security and psychometric experts, discussed proactive measures to ensure broad access, mitigate security risks and establish a reliable grading methodology. In addition, although it did not take a position on the issue, the Working Group recommended that the Court and the Board evaluate the wisdom of reciprocity arrangements that would permit candidates to transfer their remote exam scores across jurisdictions. The Working Group rejected a temporary diploma privilege option, noting that the bar exam provides critical assurance to the public that admitted attorneys meet minimum competency requirements, emphasizing New York’s immense candidate pool as well as the degree of variation in legal curricula across the country.

The Court commends the Working Group for its prompt and thoughtful consideration of how best to address the pressing challenges posed by the health crisis and has accepted these recommendations. New York will participate, with appropriate safeguards, in the remote bar examination to be administered on October 5-6. Candidates registered for the September exam will be automatically registered for the October remote exam. The Court and the Board will also give careful consideration to waiver requests by JD candidates who graduated in 2019 or later, previously took the bar examination in New York and failed no more than two times and who wish to sit for the online examination. Further, the Board will make reasonable efforts to address technological or testing space issues for candidates who promptly seek assistance in advance of the examination.

Ohio Supreme Court, In re Postponement of In-person September 9-10, 2020 Ohio Bar Examination and Administration of Remote October 5-6, 2020 Ohio Bar Examination (July 22, 2020):

[T]he Court hereby orders the following:
(A) In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and for vital safety, logistical, and planning considerations concerning the administration of the exam, the in-person September exam is postponed.
(B) A remote exam shall be administered on October 5-6, 2020 (“October”) using questions prepared by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (“NCBE”), which shall satisfy the examination requirement of Gov.Bar R. I(5).
(C) Applicants who have applications pending to sit for the September exam shall be automatically rolled over to the October exam.
(D) Applicants who have applications pending to sit for the September exam who wish to opt out of the automatic rollover to the October exam may either withdraw their exam application and have their fees refunded or may transfer their exam application to the February 2021 exam. Applicants will make this election by e-mail to the Office of Bar Admissions. The deadline for applicants to make this election is September 28, 2020.
(E) If an applicant with Recent Graduate Practicing Pending Admission status opts to transfer to the February 2021 exam, their temporary authority to practice law in Ohio shall not terminate on the first day of the October exam, as it would have under the Court’s May 14, 2020 order; such termination is postponed until the first day of the February 2021 exam or the next available exam in Ohio, or for any of the other termination events outlined in the May 14, 2020 order.
(F) Applicants who withdrew their July exam applications when the exam was postponed to September—who, under the Court’s May 14, 2020 order were prohibited from “apply[ing] at a later date to sit for this administration of the exam”—may request to be reinstated for the October exam, but shall contact the Office of Bar Admissions before making such a request.
(G) Ohio shall explore entering into memoranda of understanding with other jurisdictions administering the NCBE’s remote examination on October 5 and 6, 2020, to provide for reciprocity between the participating jurisdictions. The passing score for Ohio applicants shall remain at 270. Applicants who apply for reciprocity under a memorandum of understanding shall be treated as a UBE transfer applicant under Gov.Bar R. I.
(H) The MPT portion of the exam-application fee, which amounts to $28, shall be refunded to all applicants who have an application pending to sit for the October exam. Those applicants who opt to transfer their application to the February 2021 bar exam shall pay the fee in the amount charged by the NCBE for the UBE components, as outlined in Gov.Bar R. I(3)(B)(5).
(I) All other requirements for application and admission to the practice law in the state of Ohio remain in effect.

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