Florida is moving its bar exam online amid a worrisome spike in new coronavirus cases in the Sunshine State.
The new online exam scheduled Aug. 18 will replace the July 28-29 testing dates planned in Tampa and Orlando, the Florida Board of Bar Examiners announced Wednesday in an emailed statement. The Florida Supreme Court approved the change, including also scrapping the multistate portion of the test.
The pandemic has pressured states to consider alternatives to administering exams in person for recent law school graduates. Nevada, Maryland, Indiana, Michigan, and the District of Columbia also moved their tests online.
Utah, Washington, Oregon and Wisconsin will permit in-state graduates to bypass the bar exams and begin practicing. Minnesota is considering the same option.
Other states such as New York, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Arizona will allow provisional licensing for certain law school graduates.
An online petition to the Florida Board of Bar Examiners asked the agency to consider either an online exam, or a move to a diploma privilege, which typically doesn’t demand that law school grads ever take the bar.
Law School deans in California have endorsed the diploma privilege option over the state’s tentative plans to offer an online exam in September.
Florida reported 158,997 total positive cases as of Wednesday, with 3,550 deaths.
Multistate Test, Fees Waived
Florida’s online exam will consist of 100 multiple-choice questions and three essay questions. It may cover any subject traditionally tested on Part A or Part B of the general bar examination, the board said.
Applicants will have to install certain software to complete the online exam, the board said.
Exam fees will be waived for applicants who choose to postpone taking the test.
Applicants won’t need to take the multistate bar exam to establish technical competence, the board said. Instead, a scaled score of 136 on the August exam and a passing score on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam will be sufficient.