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Which States Are Delaying the July Bar Exam?

A classroom filled with empty desks
By Laura Temme, Esq. on April 21, 2020 2:11 PM

Editor's Note: We're continuing to update this post to reflect new information released by bar exam authorities. Last update: May 15, 2020.

We doubt there's anyone out there who is hoping that Summer 2020 will be canceled because of COVID-19. But for those who planned to take the bar exam this summer, there's even more at stake.

Each jurisdiction is handling the situation according to many factors, including the severity of the outbreak in that state. Some are going ahead with the July bar exam as planned, others have postponed until September, and still others are undecided.

These Jurisdictions Forging Ahead As Planned

Many jurisdictions are currently planning to go ahead with the exam in July, or at least have made no announcement to the contrary. Those jurisdictions are:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Oklahoma
  • Palau
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Bar examiners in North Carolina, North Dakota, Iowa, and Oregon have announced that, although they currently plan to administer their bar exam in July, if that option proves unworkable they will reschedule for September. The Maryland Board of Law Examiners announced that it will decide by May 22 whether they will go ahead with the July exam.

Tennessee, Texas, Kentucky, Washington, Nebraska, Kansas, and Minnesota have opted to offer the exam in both July and September, allowing candidates the option to transfer their application if they wish. 

States Administering Bar Exam in the Fall

Some of the above states, as well as those who have been quiet on the issue so far, may end up pushing their bar exam into the fall.

As of May 15, the following jurisdictions have officially rescheduled their July bar exam to Fall 2020:

  • Alaska (Sept. 9-10)
  • California (Sept. 9-10)
  • Connecticut (Sept. 30-Oct. 1)
  • Delaware (Sept. 9-10)
  • District of Columbia (Sept. 9-10)
  • Georgia (Sept. 9-10)
  • Guam (Sept. 9-10)
  • Hawaii (Sept. 9-10)
  • Illinois (Sept. 9-10)
  • Maine (Sept. 30-Oct. 1)
  • Massachusetts (Sept. 30-Oct. 1)
  • New Hampshire (Sept. 9-10)
  • New Jersey (Sept. 9-10)
  • New Mexico (no date announced)
  • Ohio (Sept. 9-10)
  • Pennsylvania (Sept. 9-10)
  • Rhode Island (no date announced)
  • Utah (no date announced)
  • Vermont (Sept. 9-10)
  • Virgin Islands (no date announced)

Due to limited seating, D.C. bar examiners are holding registration for "priority registrants" May 18-28. Priority is being given to those who are taking the test for the first time and obtained their J.D. from an ABA-accredited school in either 2019 or 2020. Rhode Island's Supreme Court made an announcement on April 13 that the exam is postponed indefinitely, but the Court is expected to issue more details soon.

New York Announces Staggered Bar Exam

The state that has so far been hit the hardest by COVID-19, New York moved quickly to reschedule its bar exam. On March 27th, the New York Court of Appeals announced that the exam will be rescheduled to September 9-10. However, due to the limited number of venues available to administer the exam in the fall, the Board of Law Examiners for New York has said that they cannot test all candidates at the same time. Examinees will be given a staggered schedule, and there may even be limits on applications.

Louisiana Nixes Three-Day Exam

On May 15, the Louisiana Supreme Court announced that the state's usual three-day bar exam in July will be replaced with two one-day exams. Those single-day sessions will take place on July 27 and October 10 in four cities. Seating is limited, so priority is being given to first-time test takers. 

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