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National Bar Examiner Group Offers New Fall Test Option

March 27, 2020, 5:03 PM

A fall option is being offered for states weighing the health risks of the spreading coronavirus and whether they should conduct July bar exams.

The National Conference of Bar Examiners said it will decide by May 5 whether to offer the multistate bar and essay exams and its performance test on July 28 and 29 as scheduled. But now, a fall exam would be offered as well. No dates were given for that test timetable.

“We are all facing an unprecedented set of challenges as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the group said in a statement. "(W)e understand the concerns candidates have about the July bar exam.”

The group said it’s been working with bar admission offices across the country to devise solutions that will protect both the health of test takers and administrators, and the integrity of the licensure process.

More than 46,000 people sat for bar exams in the United States last July, according to NCBE President Judy Gundersen.

Bar examination authorities in several large states and the District of Columbia recently have indicated that their July tests could be delayed because of health risks associated with the virus spreading throughout the U.S.

National and state health officials have warned that to stem the advance of the virus, people should avoid gathering in large groups, especially indoors—which is exactly how bar exams are typically given.

State bars have been considering different types of fixes, including a delayed summer exam date, only allowing small test-taker groups, and enacting “emergency diploma privileges,” which would allow graduates the ability to practice without taking a bar exam.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sam Skolnik in Washington at sskolnik@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com; Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com