Calif. High Court Mulls Pushing Summer Bar Exam To Oct.
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Law360 (June 11, 2020, 8:57 PM EDT) — The California Supreme Courton Wednesday said it was considering pushing back the summer bar exam yet again — to October — a move the court said would allow the state bar to see how the online first-year law students’ exam goes later this month.
The bar exam was initially slated for July, but in April, the high court postponed it to Sept. 9-10, citing “enormous challenges” stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.
In this week’s letter to State Bar of California Chair Alan K. Steinbrecher, Supreme Court Clerk Jorge E. Navarrete said the court was contemplating moving the exam to Oct. 5-6, after the bar assesses its online administration of the so-called baby bar on June 23 and “the feasibility of upscaling that administration to the full exam in the fall.”
Navarrete also thanked the National Conference of Bar Examiners for offering an online version of the multiple choice Multistate Bar Examination, which he called “an essential component to scoring the entire two-day exam.”
He added that the court “will continue to explore other options as circumstances develop or change.”
In a notice posted on the state bar’s website, the bar said it wouldn’t be changing any examination or corresponding deadline dates until the court makes a final determination.
“Exam applicants are encouraged to continue studying with the September date in mind but are alerted about the possibility that these dates can change,” the bar said.
In Navarrete’s April 27 letter, he directed the bar to allow anyone registered for the summer exam to withdraw and receive a full refund. He said at the time that the court had taken into account health and safety issues presented by the virus, as well as obstacles facing those who seek admission to the bar, particularly the graduating law school class of 2020.
Earlier this week, the D.C. Court of Appeals said the next District of Columbia bar exam will take place remotely in early October. For D.C., too, it marked the second time the exam has been delayed in the wake of COVID-19.
The appellate court said this alternative is convenient due to the “significant demand” for seats, space limitations and logistical challenges for social distancing in locations where hundreds of law school graduates would be taking the test. Moreover, the “continuing health concerns made an in-person exam untenable,” the court added.
Last month, the California bar said the February bar exam had garnered the lowest-ever pass rate. Out of more than 4,200 test-takers, only 26.8% — about 1,100 people — passed the exam, according to data released May 8.
–Additional reporting by Mike LaSusa and Khorri Atkinson. Editing by Daniel King.
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