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N.Y. Law Deans Say 2020 Class Should Be Allowed to Skip Bar Exam

April 2, 2020, 6:08 PM

The heads of Columbia, NYU and other New York law schools are proposing that members of this year’s class should be allowed to skip the bar exam because of the coronavirus outbreak.

New York’s highest court on Tuesday delayed the July 2020 exam. A new date is to be set in September.

Deans of New York’s 15 law schools, in a letter to Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, said that delaying admission for the soon-to-be grads will cause “profound harm” and may hobble providers of legal services for the poor, which hire a high proportion of young lawyers.

“We are concerned that delaying the class of 2020’s admission will turn crisis into catastrophe for the most vulnerable in our society,” said the deans, including those from Columbia Law School, New York University School of Law, Albany Law School, Cornell Law School, and the University of Buffalo School of Law.

They suggested that the students could start practicing law after having worked under the supervision of a licensed attorney for a period of time.

The deans said the pandemic makes it hard to set a reliable date for an in-person exam. If the court doesn’t agree to the plan for admitting attorneys without passing the bar exam, the deans suggested they be given an 18-month window from graduation to practice before receiving results from the February or July 2021 exams.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Bob Van Voris in federal court in Manhattan at

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
David Glovin at

Joe Schneider

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