Register Now To Take Georgia Bar Exam in February 2021

If you registered to take the Georgia Bar in July, September, or October 2020, and DID NOT SIT for the exam, but you plan to take it in February 2021, you must register anew and submit a new bar application (if you cleared character and fitness review before, you shouldn’t have to do that again, but CHECK your applicant portal).

If you haven’t applied to take the exam before, but you did clear the character and fitness review, remember to submit the second step, the application to take the exam itself. Check your applicant portal and the Office of Bar Admissions website for information and deadlines.

In both situations, regular registration for the February bar opened on November 10 and will close on January 6, 2021, at 4:00 pm. For details, go here: Georgia Office of Bar Admissions.

MPRE Registration and Deadlines Coming Up

If you will graduate in May 2021 and plan to take a bar exam in July 2021, make sure to check your chosen bar jurisdiction’s requirements and deadlines, including for the MPRE. Some jurisdictions require that you provide a passing MPRE score as part of your application to take the bar exam. Registration for the March 2021 MPRE opens on December 14, 2020. Deadlines are in January 2021. The recommended submission deadline is January 4, 2021; the final deadline is January 28, 2021. If you will seek test accommodations, you should initiate that request ASAP.
 
For details, go to: https://www.ncbex.org/exams/mpre/registration/.

Georgia Announces Remote Bar Exam for February 2021

Georgia’s Office of Bar Admissions has made the following announcement:

The Supreme Court of Georgia announced on November 9, 2020 that due to the continued threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has authorized the Board of Bar Examiners to administer a remote exam on February 23-24, 2021. Unlike the administration of the October 2020 remote exam, which included a limited number of questions, the February 2021 exam will be comprised of all components of a regular exam, including a 200-question Multistate Bar Examination, two Multistate Performance Test items, and four Georgia essay questions. The Georgia essay portion of the remote exam will be open book.

The regular application filing period for the February 2021 exam opens on November 10, 2020 and remains open until January 6, 2021 at 4:00 p.m.  The dates for the late application filing period for the February 2021 exam have not been announced.  

Character & Fitness Applications and Deadlines; Planning Ahead

As we’ve been discussing for a while, if you plan to take the July bar exam in Georgia, you must first complete and clear the “character and fitness” process. Regular applications for clearance are due in Georgia by 4 pm on December 2; details are here:  Certification of Fitness.

The Director of Bar Admissions, Ms. Heidi Faenza, held her usual annual meeting about this process with Emory Law students on September 9, on Zoom; it was recorded and Emory Law students can watch it here: September 9, 2020 meeting. You can also reach it via The Fourth Floor on Canvas.

The information will be helpful even if you plan to take the bar in another state, as character and fitness review processes mostly seek the same kinds of information. You can start gathering the information you will need (past employers, addresses, etc.) now. It takes longer than you think it will!

If you plan to take the bar in a different state, each state’s rules and deadlines are different. Look up yours at www.ncbex.org, the website of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, where you will find links to each state’s bar jurisdiction website as well as information about registering for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (“MPRE”) which most states require in addition to their bar exam. Remember that the only official information about a jurisdiction’s rules and deadlines comes from the jurisdiction itself; always check the official bar admissions website to make sure any information you’ve gotten elsewhere is accurate and up-to-date.

I recommend, again, that you read the book “Pass the Bar!”, by Profs. Riebe and Schwartz, between now and the start of classes. It includes really helpful “action plan checklists” that start with the period 6-12 months before your commercial bar review course starts, which is now if you plan to start such a course in May 2021, for the July 2021 bar exam. The book was written before some of the changes in the MBE in recent years (e.g., it says there are 6 MBE subjects and there are now 7), and it doesn’t address any pandemic-related changes made in 2020, but in every other respect, it is one of the best independent guides to passing the bar on your first attempt that I know, and a great supplement to the guidance you’ll get from your commercial bar review course (which I hope you’ve chosen and enrolled in by now).

The book walks you through the many things you can do, throughout your 3L year, to improve your odds on the bar exam. Every one of you can pass the bar first time, but it takes advance planning and this will help. It also discusses individual risk factors any student might have, that could affect that student’s bar passage; others are described here: Bar Exam Risk Factors. Specific solutions to address each of those are listed in “Pass The Bar!”; if you feel any of them apply to you, please schedule an individual advising appointment with one of the OAESS team.

New York Bar Gives Priority to New York Law Schools

The New York Board of Law Examiners announced last night that its bar application and registration process will now give priority to applicants from the law schools located in New York:

Our efforts to seat as many candidates as possible remain ongoing. To that end, the Board of Law Examiners has been in contact with representatives of New York’s fifteen law schools, who have generously offered their facilities to accommodate test-takers. We remain hopeful that, with the assistance of these valued partners, it will be possible to administer the September exam in a safe and responsible manner.

However, given current conditions in New York – including ongoing public health concerns, social distancing guidelines, and limitations on large gatherings – it is clear that our seating capacity for the September exam will be sharply limited, and therefore the Board likely will not be able to seat all applicants who wish to take the exam. As a result, the application process for the September exam will proceed on a rolling basis as space permits. From Tuesday, May 5, 2020 at 12:00 A.M. through Friday, May 15 at 11:59 P.M., applications will be accepted from any J.D. or LL.M. candidate who is sitting for the bar examination for the first time and who has graduated (or will graduate in Spring 2020) from one of the fifteen law schools located in New York State: Albany Law School, Brooklyn Law School, University at Buffalo School of Law, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Columbia Law School, CUNY School of Law, Cornell Law School, Fordham University School of Law, Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University, New York Law School, New York University School of Law, Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, St. John’s University School of Law, Syracuse University College of Law, or Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center. Registration will remain open for the duration of the May 5 to May 15 application period and priority will not be given based on the date a candidate registers within that period.At the close of the first application period, the Board will assess available seating in light of existing health and safety guidance. If seating remains available, the Board will then open the application period to a larger pool of candidates.

Given the constraints caused by the public health crisis, candidates are strongly encouraged to consider sitting for the UBE at a later date or in other jurisdictions that may be better positioned to accommodate test-takers. While our efforts to maximize seating are ongoing, the health and safety of all participants must remain our top priority.

Please continue to monitor this website for updates.

If this leaves you wondering where to take a bar exam instead of New York, you can consider taking it in other UBE jurisdictions, some of which offer “courtesy seating” for bar takers who won’t be applying for admission to that state’s bar. The NCBE Bar Admission Guide has a list of those states that was up to date at the time of publication several months ago. Given the rapid changes in jurisdictional processes recently, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vitally important that you check on a jurisdiction’s official bar website as to whether that option is still open and how to apply for it. The NCBE is also posting jurisdictional updates here: NCBE COVID-19 Updates. This blog is not designed to keep up with such rapid changes and does not purport to address all 50+ bar jurisdictions.

If you have a job offer that you have accepted or will accept, it is suggested that you contact that employer and ask if the employer has a preference for any particular alternative jurisdiction if you are unable to register for your first choice, presumably the jurisdiction where the employer is located.

California, Pennsylvania, D.C Bar Exams Postponed; New York Changes Requirements

More states announced changes to their bar exams and processes this week. California and Pennsylvania have canceled administration of their July 2020 bar exam and will administer it in September instead. The California announcement may be read here: California Supreme Court Bar Exam Letter. The announcement of the Pennsylvania Board of Bar Examiners, with links to other documents and including an announcement of a limited license to practice law for July 2020 bar applicants, is here: Pennsylvania Board of Bar Examiners.

The District of Columbia has cancelled its July 2020 bar exam but has not yet announced a rescheduled date. Its announcement can be read here: District of Columbia Court of Appeals Order.

The New York Board of Law Examiners, which had previously announced the rescheduling of its July 2020 bar exam to September of 2020, has changed or waived a number of its requirements, which are detailed here, also with links to the relevant official documents: New York Board of Law Examiners. As with all information from bar admissions offices, please read the information they provide with great care, and follow up directly with them, via your applicant portal or file analyst, if you have specific questions, as only those offices can give you accurate and authoritative answers.

It goes without saying that this is a rapidly changing situation, and bar jurisdictions are updating their decisions, deadlines and processes almost every day. The National Conference of Bar Examiners updates July 2020 Jurisdiction Information frequently; check that here. This blog will not cover all changes to all jurisdictions. Always check at www.ncbex.org and then at a specific bar jurisdiction’s official website for the most accurate, updated and authoritative information.

Georgia Bar Exam Delayed to September

The Supreme Court of Georgia announced today in a press release that the July 2020 bar exam in Georgia has been postponed to September 9 and 10, 2020, and that it will temporarily allow provisional admission to practice of law graduates within certain limitations: Supreme Court of Georgia Order. Georgia’s Office of Bar Admissions has posted a special FAQ page for questions about these new rules: GA Bar COVID-19 FAQ. Please read this new information carefully, as it has very specific details, together with the other bar examination information posted on the Bar Admissions website. If you are a current applicant to take the Georgia bar exam, make sure to check your applicant portal often for all communications.

It goes without saying that this is a rapidly changing situation, and bar jurisdictions are updating their decisions, deadlines and processes almost every day. The National Conference of Bar Examiners updates July 2020 Jurisdiction Information frequently; check that here. This blog will not cover all changes to all jurisdictions. Always check at www.ncbex.org and then at a specific bar jurisdiction’s official website for the most accurate, updated and authoritative information.

New York Removes Questions About Mental Health History From Bar Application

Wellness word cloud

The State of New York will change its character and fitness questionnaire to relieve applicants from worry that seeking mental health treatment might affect their admission to the bar, according to an announcement today:

New York State’s court system will remove questions about mental health history from its bar application, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore announced Wednesday.

After debate and study, the court system plans to revise the application, DiFiore said in her 2020 State of Our Judiciary address.

“The amended application will no longer ask intrusive questions about a candidate’s mental health conditions or treatment history,” she said in her prepared remarks. “Instead, the application will focus on disclosure of behavior and conduct that is relevant to a candidate’s fitness to practice law.”

The presence of mental health questions on the bar exam, and stigma around mental illness, have proven to be barriers to treatment within the legal profession, according to a New York State Bar Association report. DiFiore said the mental health and well-being of New York’s lawyers is of “paramount importance.”

Important New Information about the MPRE

NCBE wants all prospective MPRE candidates to know about some important changes for the 2020 MPRE:

  1. The test will be administered on Thursday, March 12, and Friday, March 13, 2020. The MPRE is no longer administered during a single two-hour period on Saturday. Instead, students will select one of several two-hour appointment times on one of the two weekday test dates. There will also be weekday administrations for the August and October MPRE administrations.
  2. The test will be administered on a computer at a Pearson VUE testing center. This is a new location compared to past administrations. Students will select a testing center when they schedule their test appointment.
  3. The registration deadline is February 12, 2020. There is no late registration deadline. The earlier students register with NCBE and schedule their appointment with Pearson VUE, the more likely they will be to get an appointment with their desired location, date, and test time.
  4. If students plan to test in March and will be seeking accommodations under the ADA, they should apply for accommodations as soon as possible to allow us time to review their application. Those applying for accommodations should check their NCBE File Cabinets frequently for updates on their accommodations applications.

Any questions should be directed to NCBE at 608.280.8550 or by email to mpreregistration [at] ncbex [dot] org (for questions about registration) or mpre [dot] ada [at] ncbex [dot] org (for questions about accommodations).

Change in Process to Apply for Accommodations on the MPRE

The National Conference of Bar Examiners has announced the following change to its process for approving accommodation requests on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (“MPRE”):

IMPORTANT: The process for requesting MPRE test accommodations is changing. Beginning with the March 2020 MPRE, candidates must apply for accommodations prior to registering and scheduling a test appointment. A detailed explanation of the application process is provided below; please read it carefully. NCBE is now accepting requests for accommodations for 2020 administrations of the MPRE.

Details are on the website of the National Conference of Bar Examiners. As a reminder, requests for ADA-related accommodations on the bar exam itself, as distinct from the MPRE, are reviewed and decided separately by each jurisdiction. Applicants should read the relevant portion of the state bar admissions website for the jurisdiction where they plan to take the bar exam, well in advance, as it can take a long time to collect all the required documentation. All of those websites can be reached through the website of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, www.ncbex.org.