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D.C. Joins Several States to Offer Remote Bar Exam

Oct. 27, 2020, 8:10 PM

The District of Columbia has joined several states to announce that it will be holding its February 2021 bar exam online.

Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and Tennessee also have said their February exams will be offered remotely, according to the National Conference of Bar Examiners, which tracks the bar exam status by jurisdiction.

The NCBE announced earlier that it would allow jurisdictions to offer an in-person or online exam Feb. 23 and Feb. 24.

The licensing exam process in states has been in flux this year as the threat of coronavirus infection continues to hover over indoor public gatherings.

Earlier this month was the first time the NCBE allowed the bar exam to be given remotely, permitting candidates to test in their own environments using their own computers.

States have taken different routes, including diploma privilege or provisional licensing, to skirt problems with online exams.

Earlier this month, a substantial percentage of those taking the New York bar exam reported encountering technical problems during the test. Earlier, Indiana and Michigan test-takers also reported their own technical problems on the exam.

The District of Columbia administered its October bar exam to some 1,700 test takers, and D.C. officials said the success of that approach led to its adoption for the February bar.

“The Court carefully considered the need to protect the health and safety of examinees, proctors, and court staff, along with our duty to ensure the competence of persons licensed to practice law in D.C. and understanding the desire of many law school graduates to take the D.C. exam, especially since it will be a Uniform Bar Exam,” said Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, of the D.C. Court of Appeals.

In February 2020, 811 people took the in-person bar exam in D.C. The number for the February bar exam is typically much lower than the number who participate in October, a few months out from most law school graduations.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Olson in Washington at egolson1@gmail.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com

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