Don’t Miss Bar Exam Application Filing Deadlines!

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.

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.  

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.

New York Announces Limits on Bar Takers

From the website of the New York Board of Law Examiners:

SEPTEMBER BAR EXAM: The New York Court of Appeals announced on March 27, 2020 that the New York State Bar Examination will not be administered on July 28-29, 2020 as previously scheduled. Click here to read the press release from the Court of Appeals.

The examination has been rescheduled to WEDNESDAY-THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 9-10, 2020. The application period for the rescheduled examination is presently scheduled to open on May 5, 2020 at 12:00 AM and to close on May 30, 2020 at 11:59 PM.

HOWEVER, DUE TO THE FACT THAT THE BOARD DOES NOT EXPECT TO BE ABLE TO USE THE LARGE VENUES IT TYPICALLY USES TO ADMINISTER THE EXAM, THE BOARD WILL NOT BE ABLE TO TEST ALL THE CANDIDATES WHO WOULD TYPICALLY APPLY TO TAKE A JULY BAR EXAM. THE BOARD WILL BE REQUIRED TO PRIORITIZE GROUPS OF CANDIDATES AND EXPECTS TO ANNOUNCE A STAGGERED SCHEDULE FOR AND NECESSARY LIMITATIONS ON APPLICATIONS.

We are actively seeking details as to what the staggered schedule and limitations on applications will be, which have not yet been announced. Please keep checking your bar jurisdiction’s official website and read all communications from bar offices.

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.”

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.”

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!

Information session with bar officials TOMORROW, 9/6/17

If you will graduate this year and expect to take the bar exam in Georgia, come learn about the “character and fitness” application process directly from the Director of Admissions for the State Bar of Georgia, Mr. John Sammon. He and other bar staff will explain the process, which you do for Georgia in your fall semester and submit by the start of December. The information is generally relevant to most states’ character and fitness processes, so come even if you plan to sit for the bar in another state. The program starts at 12:15 pm in Rm. 1E; pizza and soft drinks will be served and you are welcome to bring your own lunch too if you wish.