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Several States Opt for Remote Bar Exam

Woman researching laws on her computer.
By Laura Temme, Esq. on July 09, 2020 6:00 AM

As concerns about COVID-19 continue to be at the forefront, state bar examiners have had tough decisions to make regarding the July 2020 exam.

Several states have opted to shorten the exam, replacing 2 or 3-day testing with a single day. Others have moved the exam to September, and some are even offering options to take the exam remotely.

Pandemic Forces Bar Examiners to Get Creative

Florida canceled its in-person bar exam and will hold the test remotely in August. Louisiana's 3-day July bar exam was scrapped and replaced with a one-day exam on July 27 and October 10. Test takers in Louisiana will also have the option to take the test online.

New York's Board of Law Examiners held four separate application periods and stated that they will not be able to test all candidates who would typically apply.

Oregon has opted for a remote exam in October, along with a few other special considerations for 2020. The Oregon Supreme Court announced on June 29 that a one-time diploma privilege will be granted to 2020 graduates of the state's three law schools. Graduates of other ABA-accredited schools can also claim this privilege if their alma mater meets specific bar passage requirements. Oregon has also temporarily reduced the passing score from 274 to 266.

Exams Move to Fall Or Go Remote (or Both!)

Twenty-one states have announced that July test dates are canceled. Instead, most will hold in-person testing on September 9-10, with a handful conducting exams September 30 and October 1.

For a while, it seemed bar examiners were reluctant to move the test online. But over the last few weeks, several states have changed their tune.

The following states will hold remote exams in July:

  • Nevada (July 28-29)
  • Michigan (July 28)
  • Indiana (July 28)

Others decided to have remote exams in October:

  • Oregon
  • Arizona (in addition to July's in-person exam)
  • Massachusetts (Oct. 5-6)
  • Maryland (Oct. 5-6)
  • District of Columbia
  • Texas (in addition to in-person Sept. 9-10)

Who Is Still Holding Their Bar Exam In July?

Just under 50% of states are still planning to go ahead as planned with in-person exams later this month. States that are offering additional test dates in the fall are marked with an (*):

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Iowa
  • Kansas *
  • Kentucky*
  • Minnesota*
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Nebraska*
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Virginia
  • Washington*
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Will this summer change the way bar exams are administered forever? Many of us thought it would be several years before we'd see a remote bar exam. But with a global pandemic forcing their hand, bar examiners are joining the legions of other people having to make sweeping changes to the way they operate.

Related Resources

Practicing Law Without a License: The Coming New Normal for Recent Grads? (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)

Will the COVID-19 Outbreak Have a Lasting Impact on Legal Education (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)

Unexpected Financial Emergency in Law School? Here Are Your Options (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)

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