Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Austin Stateman, Texas Law Schools Call For Changes to Bar Exam Amid Coronavirus Surge:
The deans of 10 Texas law schools are calling on the Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Board of Law Examiners to rethink plans to administer an in-person bar exam in July and September as coronavirus infections continue to rise across the state.
The Texas bar exam is typically administered in July and February and is the final hurdle for law school graduates before receiving their full license to practice law. Earlier this spring, the Supreme Court added another test date in September and ordered the July and September tests be shortened, reducing the normally three-day test to two. Test-takers would also be required to wear masks during the exam.
But some say it’s not enough. In a letter to the court and the board on Monday, 10 law school deans, including those from the University of Texas, Texas A&M University and Baylor University, said “the arc of the pandemic has changed” and current precautions are no longer sufficient. ...
One option includes converting the July and September tests to optional or mandatory remote delivery. Another includes adopting an apprenticeship system that would permit licensure upon the completion of a certain number of hours of supervised practice. Finally, all 10 law schools said they would support a one-time diploma privilege option for graduates of their law schools — an option that many law graduates favor. As of Monday night, nearly 2,000 had signed a petition to grant the privilege to all Texas graduates. ...
The deans said recent law graduates have done all that their schools, the Supreme Court and the Board of Law Examiners have asked of them. “For them to be denied the opportunity to be licensed for months or even a year, due to the inability to test them safely and consistently with prior year bar takers, would result in significant personal and professional consequences that could permanently affect the trajectory of their careers,” the letter said.