The Supreme Court of California on Monday ordered the July California Bar Exam be postponed to Sept. 9-10, and directed the State Bar to make every effort to administer the test online with remote or electronic proctoring.
The court made its decision considering the “enormous challenges this public health crisis has placed before those who seek admission to the California bar, including the graduating law school class of 2020.”
“These adjustments recognize and will advance the manifest public interest in maintaining access to justice through competent and qualified legal services,” the court wrote.
The State Bar of California should also allow those registered to withdraw with a full refund through the day before the exam, Sept. 8. Exam results should be disclosed to takers no later than Dec. 31.
Among the other measures approved by the court and outlined in its letter to the State Bar Board of Trustees:
- Work with the National Conference of Bar Examiners to facilitate online administration of the multiple-choice part of the test—the 2020 Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), or some variation of it—in September.
- Continue efforts to administer the June 2020 First-Year Law Students’ Examination online with remote and/or electronic proctoring. Students will have four opportunities, instead of the current limit of three, to pass the exam to be eligible for law school credit beyond the first year.
- Postpone the October First-Year Law Students’ Examination to November to maximize grading resources for the Bar Exam.
- Submit a workplan to the court no later than May 11, with planned goals and milestones for online administration of the tests.
The National Conference of Bar Examiners, which provides the Multistate Bar Examination, will formally announce its plans for administering its exams, including exam dates, on May 5. The organization has begun initial planning to offer the exam Sept. 9-10.
One of two scenarios presented to the Supreme Court by the California Bar’s Board of Trustees was the development of a provisional certification program, under which those eligible would be certified to work under the supervision of a licensed California attorney.
The court indicated that it will continue to explore that and other options as circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic develop or change.
Read the court’s full letter here.