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.

Oregon Bar (UBE Jurisdiction) Extends Late Deadline

Congratulations, graduates! If you missed earlier deadlines to register for a July 2019 bar exam, the Oregon State Bar has extended the late filing deadline to May 30 for those interested in sitting for the July 2019 Oregon Bar Exam.  The OSB seeks to ensure that Oregon remains an option for applicants throughout the country, as bar licensing becomes an increasingly cross-jurisdictional decision. For more information, see the OSB Admissions page here: https://www.osbar.org/admissions.

Oregon uses the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) as its bar exam.  Applicants who take the Oregon Bar Exam earn a portable score that is transferable to the other 29+ states/jurisdictions that offer the UBE.  Graduates can find the list of UBE states here: http://www.ncbex.org/exams/ube/.  Remember, it is easier to succeed in a job search if you have taken and passed a bar exam, and the UBE is a great option if you don’t yet know where you will be working.

Save the Date — Info Session with Bar Examiner and Director of Bar Admissions; Deadlines

Emory Law Bar Readiness State Bar Georgia

If you will graduate in May and take a bar exam in July, mark your calendar for March 27, when the Georgia Office of Bar Admissions will return for its annual spring visit. Unlike the fall visit, when the director of bar admissions speaks to students mostly about the character and fitness process, the spring visit includes one of the actual bar examiners, the lawyers who write and grade the essay questions on the Georgia bar. The presentation will be on March 27, from 12:15-1:45 pm, in Rm. 1E.

This session will be useful even if you plan to take the bar exam in a different state, as the director of bar admissions will speak generally about things like the MBE (Multistate Bar Exam) and MPT (Multistate Performance Test), which are included on the Georgia bar exam and most other states’ bar exams. She will also go into detail about the Georgia bar exam, so if you plan to take that, don’t miss this session. Also, if you have individual concerns or questions about the character and fitness review process, she normally makes herself available for private conversations with students after the main session.

Please visit www.gabaradmissions.org for detailed information, and remember to keep checking your bar applicant portal for any communications from the Office of Bar Admissions. You don’t want to miss any questions or deadlines from them, as they will strictly enforce all policies and deadlines. The very last deadline for submitting a character and fitness application for the July 2019 Georgia Bar is March 6, 2019. Review all Georgia deadlines here: Georgia Bar Admissions Deadlines and Fees.

If you will take the Uniform Bar Examination or another state’s bar exam, make sure you are tracking and meeting all relevant deadlines and requirements. You can review those at the website of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, www.ncbex.org, in the Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements. NOTE: “The information in this publication is correct as submitted to NCBE by contributing jurisdictions at the time of publication. It should be used only as a general guide. Since jurisdiction rules and policies change, NCBE strongly advises consulting the jurisdiction’s bar admission agency directly for the most current information.”

Georgia Bar Character and Fitness Deadline 12/6!

Dear students: if you are applying to the Georgia bar, remember that the character and fitness application and the required fee are due IN THEIR OFFICE by 4 pm, 12/6. A postmark does not count. For details, go here: https://www.gabaradmissions.org/deadlines-and-fees.

Planning to Take a Bar Exam? Remember Fall Deadlines!

If you plan to take a bar exam the summer after you graduate, there may be a number of important deadlines you must meet in this fall semester, depending on each state. For instance, in Georgia, graduating students are supposed to complete their Character and Fitness paperwork and applications by early December. The specific date of that deadline varies from year to year, so you must check here: Georgia Fitness Application Deadlines.

The National Conference of Bar Examiners publishes a digest of all the states’ different bar admissions and exam requirements, updated annually: Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admissions Requirements. As they note on their webpage: “The information in this publication is correct as submitted to NCBE by contributing jurisdictions at the time of publication. It should be used only as a general guide. Since jurisdiction rules and policies change, NCBE strongly advises consulting the jurisdiction’s bar admission agency directly for the most current information.” Always double-check bar-related information directly with your bar state’s admissions office, through their website.

Most states require that you take the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE). That is offered nationally three times a year, in November, March, and August. The National Conference of Bar Examiners writes and oversees that exam too, and provides much information here: MPRE.

Now is a really good time to enter all the upcoming deadlines and dates into your calendar or planner, to make sure you stay on top of them. Bar admissions offices are very strict about their deadlines, so you don’t want to miss them!