Paul L. Caron
Dean



Monday, September 14, 2020

California Law School Deans Request Supreme Court To Make Oct. 5-6 Online Bar Exam Open Book With No Proctoring

Letter to Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the California Supreme Court:

California Bar ExamWe write as deans of the ABA-accredited law schools in California.  We express our appreciation for all of your efforts to deal with the many issues concerning the bar exam at this unprecedented and difficult time.

We write now to urge that California administer the bar exam on October 5-6 without remote proctoring and without limits on what materials the student may consult during the exam.  Indiana and Nevada took this approach in July for their bar exams.

There are many reasons why this would be desirable for this bar exam.  There is great concern over whether and how the remote proctoring will work.  Also, in order to administer a closed book exam, the California bar has developed detailed rules for students, such as not allowing food or books to be visible.  This creates serious hardship for students who live in small apartments.

The bar exam always is a source of stress for those taking it, but the situation this year is dramatically different.  We still are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic which has affected many of our graduates and their families.  Many are dislocated by the fires and adversely affected by the smoke.  We are in the midst of a national reckoning with racism and anti-Blackness.  Administering the exam without remote proctoring and in an open book manner would decrease the stress for many taking the bar.   In addition, there is a non-trivial risk of significant technical issues or snafus in the planned administration that would be substantially alleviated by this alternative approach.

Whether the bar exam should continue to be closed book in the future is an important issue to consider.  But for the October 5-6 bar exam which is being administered remotely, we urge you to consider administering this without remote proctoring or a restriction of the materials students may use.Thank you for considering our views.

Sincerely,

Paul L. Caron
Duane and Kelly Roberts Dean and Professor of Law
Pepperdine University Rick J. Caruso School of Law

Erwin Chemerinsky
Dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law
University of California, Berkeley School of Law

Margaret A. Dalton, Esq.
Interim Dean and Professor of Law
University of San Diego School of Law

Allen Easley
Dean
Western State College of Law

David L. Faigman
Chancellor & Dean & John F. Digardi Professor of Law
University of California Hastings College of the Law

Susan Freiwald
Dean and Professor of Law
University of San Francisco School of Law

Andrew T. Guzman
Dean and Carl Mason Franklin Chair in Law, & Professor of Law and Political Science
University of Southern California, Gould School of Law

Anna M. Han
Interim Dean and Professor of Law
Santa Clara University, School of Law

Jenny S. Martinez
Richard E. Lang Professor of Law & Dean
Stanford University, School of Law

Jennifer L. Mnookin
Dean and David G. Price & Dallas P. Price Professor of Law
University of California, Los Angeles School of Law

Matt Parlow
Dean and Donald P. Kennedy Chair in Law
Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law

Song Richardson
Dean and Chancellor’s Professor of Law
University of California, Irvine School of Law

Michael Hunter Schwartz
Dean and Professor of Law
University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law

Sean M. Scott 
President and Dean
California Western School of Law

Michael Waterstone
Fritz B. Burns Dean and Professor of Law
Loyola Law School, Loyola Marymount University

Update:

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2020/09/california-law-school-deans-request-supreme-court-to-make-oct-5-6-online-bar-exam-open-book-with-no-.html

Legal Ed News, Legal Education, Pepperdine Legal Ed | Permalink

Comments

Quote: "Also, in order to administer a closed book exam, the California bar has developed detailed rules for students, such as not allowing food or books to be visible. This creates serious hardship for students who live in small apartments."

Does hanging up a sheet or blanket behind you qualify as a "serious hardship"? I think not. It really does look like these deans regard their graduates as less prepared for life than a typical middle-school student.

Quote: "Administering the exam without remote proctoring and in an open book manner would decrease the stress for many taking the bar."

How are these lawyers to be going to cope with a heated legal dispute if they can't handle bar exams without open books? Is "We object your honor," going to be banned from the courtroom because it's too traumatic for the opposing counsel?

This is nuts, absolutely nuts!

Posted by: Mike Perry | Sep 14, 2020 5:14:19 PM

One more comment. This is a good description of the millennial generation that law schools are failing to prepare for the rigors of legal practice.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hER0Qp6QJNU

Posted by: Mike Perry | Sep 14, 2020 5:19:18 PM

Mr. Perry,
Your response says more about you than the deans, law students, and other millennials you are generalizing. I wonder how you would manage if you were in their shoes.

Posted by: Brian Jeong | Sep 15, 2020 3:22:44 PM

Indiana has shown the way to administer a remote open-book bar exam with a minimum of fuss and delay: https://abaforlawstudents.com/2020/09/15/caught-up-in-the-covid-chaos-this-state-remodeled-the-bar-exam/

Posted by: Otto Stockmeyer | Sep 22, 2020 7:28:42 AM