Paul L. Caron

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Diploma Privilege Approved In Louisiana, Rejected In Tennessee; Flurry Of Bar Exam Changes In Other States

Louisiana Supreme Court, Announcement Regarding 2020 Bar Examination (July 22, 2020):

Today the Louisiana Supreme Court issued an Order permitting certain “Qualified Candidates” for admission to the Louisiana State Bar to be admitted to practice without the requirement of sitting for and passing the bar examination in 2020, provided all other usual requirements for admission are met.  In addition, Qualified Candidates must complete 25 hours of continuing legal education and the Louisiana State Bar Association’s “Transition Into Practice” mentoring program by December 31, 2021.

Dissenting from the Court’s Order were Justice Jefferson D. Hughes IIIJustice James T. Genovese, and Justice William J. Crain.

The additional educational and mentoring requirements enacted in today’s Order for those Qualified Candidates who elect the emergency admissions option will serve as guardrails to ensure the competency and integrity of the newly-admitted attorneys during their first year of practice. 

Registered applicants who do not meet the definition of “Qualified Candidate” will still have two opportunities to take the bar examination in a one-day, remote format in 2020:  August 24, 2020 and October 10, 2020. 

Tennessee Supreme Court, In re: Petition For Emergency Rule Waiver (July 21, 2020):

[W]e are sensitive to the hardships and challenges placed upon recent law school graduates, applicants to the Tennessee bar, administrators, courts, members of the bar, and the public by the COVID-19 pandemic. We have monitored the ongoing events and have taken measures to mitigate further risks and hardships to applicants by canceling the July 2020 and September 2020 examinations, adopting an online Admissions Assessment, and extending the time periods in which applicants may engage in supervised practice or practice pending admission under Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 7.

Although there are no perfect solutions, the Court appreciates the views expressed by the petitioners, the Board of Law Examiners, the Board of Professional Responsibility, and the law school deans. We have carefully considered all of the arguments while bearing in mind our duty to protect the interests of the public and the administration of justice under Rule 7. After due consideration, it is hereby ORDERED that the “Petition for Emergency Rule Waiver” is respectfully denied.

NCBE, Jurisdiction Announcements (last updated July 22, 2020):

On July 20, the Supreme Court of Georgia announced that it was canceling the in-person exam scheduled for September 9-10 and that it would instead administer an online exam on October 5-6.

On July 20, the Idaho Supreme Court directed the Idaho State Bar to administer a remote exam on October 5-6 in addition to the July exam. The Court also issued an emergency order extending the term for legal intern licenses until October 31, 2021.

New Hampshire
On July 22, the New Hampshire Supreme Court issued a news release and order announcing cancellation of the September 9-10 exam and that the exam would instead be administered remotely on October 5-6.

New York
On July 16, the New York State Board of Law Examiners, after consultation with the New York State Court of Appeals, announced the cancellation of the exam scheduled for September 9-10. The Court of Appeals has appointed a Working Group to evaluate administering a remote exam on October 5-6 and expects to reach a recommendation by early August. The Court also amended its rules, effective July 22, to further enhance a previously approved program designed to provide temporary authorization for qualified law graduates to engage in the limited practice of law under the supervision of a qualified attorney.

The Supreme Court of Ohio issued an order on July 22 canceling the September 9-10 exam and announcing that it will instead administer a remote exam on October 5-6. Ohio intends to seek reciprocity of scores with other jurisdictions administering the October remote exam.

The Wyoming Supreme Court announced on July 22 that it will offer an additional administration of the exam on September 30-October 1 in addition to the July administration.

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