Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, April 28, 2020


Page 1


Pandemic Forces Postponement of Bar Exam to September

Supreme Court Tells State Bar to Do Its Best to Administer It Online


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The California Supreme Court yesterday announced that the bar exam that had been scheduled to be conducted in July is postponed to Sept. 9-10 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and directed that the State Bar gear up for conducting that examination online.

A letter from the high court’s executive officer/clerk Jorge E. Navarrete to Alan Steinbrecher, chair of the State Bar Board of Trustees, instructed that that “every effort possible” be made to administer an online exam “with remote and/or electronic proctoring.” It gave no indication of how that might be accomplished.

The Supreme Court “has taken into account the health and safety issues presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, and 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,” Navarrete advised.

Multistate Exam

He conveyed the court’s orders to “work with the National Conference of Bar Examiners to facilitate the online administration of the September 2020 Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), or some variation thereof.”

In a separate statement, the Supreme Court said that the national group “will formally announce its plans for administering its exams, including exam dates, on May 5” and that it “has begun initial planning to offer the exam Sept. 9-10.”

Navarrete told Steinbrecher that the State Bar is to expedite the grading of the exams, with a target date of Dec. 31 for release of the results, and is to come up with a workplan by May 11 “containing planned goals, milestones, and beta-testing or other simulations.”

He said that anyone who has paid the testing fee may, anytime before the day of the exam, decide not be tested and receive a refund.

‘Baby Bar’

The one-day first-year law students’ examination, also known as the “baby bar,” is customarily administered in June and October, and must be passed by students of unaccredited law schools in order to get credit for the first year of studies. Navarrete advised that the State Bar is to proceed with an online test in June, but is to postpone the next sitting for the exam to November “to maximize grading resources for the September 2020 California Bar  Examination.”

Those taking the baby bar will have four chances to take it, rather than the usual three, the executive officer said. Those not passing it on the fourth try will forfeit law school credits.

Navarrete added:

“The court thanks the Committee of Bar Examiners, the Board of Trustees, the deans of the California law schools, the students, and all the other public commenters for their input, including offering alternatives to the bar examination. Before the current pandemic, possible alterations to the bar examination were on the court’s agenda for consideration and remain so as studies concerning the examination continue to reach their conclusion. The court remains committed to making an informed judgment concerning the future of the bar examination when the circumstances are appropriate.”


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