If you plan to take the Georgia bar exam in July 2021 and you believe you qualify for ADA-related test accommodations, you must apply separately for those by May 1, 2021. Information and application forms are here: Georgia Office of Bar Admissions ADA Testing Accommodations. You should contact that office directly with any questions.
If you will graduate this May (2021), you have probably been planning your summer of bar study since last summer, or at least last fall. However, please make sure you are doing or have done all the paperwork related to actually signing up for the bar exam. State jurisdictions have different deadlines and requirements. For example in Georgia, you must clear the character and fitness review before you can apply to take the exam itself, it’s a two-step process. Once you get that certification, you file your application to take the exam, starting in early April. In New York, you are reviewed for character and fitness for admission to the bar after you take and pass the exam and meet New York’s other requirements.
Many state deadlines to sign up for the bar exam range from the spring to the summer; a few have rolling late deadlines with increasing late fees, until the final late deadline is reached. Make sure you know the deadlines for your bar jurisdiction! NCBE publishes this helpful chart of states and deadlines in its annual Comprehensive Guide to State Bar Requirements.
If you don’t yet know where you will be working after graduation, i.e. a specific employer, don’t let that stop you or delay you from signing up for a bar exam — you can and should sign up to take it in a Uniform Bar Exam (“UBE”) jurisdiction and earn a transferable score, unless you are sure you will be in a specific non-UBE state for reasons other than a particular job (for instance, your family or your partner’s job is located here in Georgia). If you are sure of your future location, regardless of employer, sign up for that state’s bar. It is simpler to find a job after graduation if you have already taken and passed a bar exam, even if you end up seeking employment in a different jurisdiction.
Good luck to those of you who will take the online New York Law Exam this week as part of the bar admission requirements of the New York State Board of Law Examiners! If you aren’t taking it this week but you plan to take it in the future, please remember the dates and application deadlines, which are separate from the dates and deadlines for the Uniform Bar Exam that New York administers (also required for bar admission). The New York Law Exam is given four times a year.
If you expect to apply for admission to the New York bar (or any other state), make sure to review carefully all the rules and instructions that every state provides on an official website, such as www.nybarexam.org or www.gabaradmissions.org. An easy way to find the website of the state where you plan to take a bar exam and seek admission is to start at the website of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, www.ncbex.org. Bookmark that website and the website for your bar jurisdiction if you haven’t done so already!
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.