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!
The ABA Journal has published the following summary today to reflect more changes announced by bar jurisdictions yesterday:
In light of public health concerns, Illinois and New York have joined the growing list of states that canceled in-person bar exams, with plans for an October remote test offered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners.
Ohio and New Hampshire made similar announcements Wednesday, as did Tennessee, Washington, D.C., Massachusetts and New Jersey during the month of July. Maryland is also offering the NCBE October exam, which the state announced in June.
Additionally, Louisiana announced on Wednesday that the state would be offering diploma privilege for candidates who graduated from an ABA-accredited law school no earlier than December 2019.
According to the NCBE’s website, Utah, Oregon and Washington are also offering diploma privilege.
*New July 16, 2020 *
UPDATE REGARDING THE SEPTEMBER 2020 BAR EXAMINATION:
In light of accelerating public health concerns and continuing governmental restrictions, the Board of Law Examiners has concluded that an in-person bar exam cannot be safely administered on September 9-10, 2020. Participants’ health and safety must remain our top priority and, because conditions have not sufficiently improved, the September exam has been cancelled. Please continue to monitor this website for updates regarding the New York bar exam. Additional information can be found in the Court of Appeals’ statement, available here.
When a determination is made as to a future exam, the Board will announce how the application fees paid by candidates currently registered for the September exam will be handled.
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.
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 April 6, 2020*
The Board’s office is closed until further notice as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Staff members are not presently available to answer phone calls. However, the Board continues to closely monitor the situation. The health and safety of applicants, our staff and the proctors who administer the bar exam are of paramount importance to the Board.
Updated information will be posted on this website as it is available.
JULY 2020 BAR EXAM: The New York Court of Appeals announced on March 27, 2020 that the New York State Bar Examiation will not be administered on July 28-29, 2020 as previously scheduledClick here to read the press release from the Court of Appeals.
The examination will be 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.
Additional information regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the July 2020 bar exam is available on NCBE’s website at: http://www.ncbex.org/ncbe-covid-19-updates/.
“COVID-19. UPDATE The New York Court of Appeals today announced 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 dated March 27, 2020.
The State Board of Law Examiners will announce the new date for the exam and the dates for the application filing period as soon as it becomes available.
Further information will be posted on this website when available. Additional information regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the July 2020 bar exam is available on NCBE’s website at: http://www.ncbex.org/ncbe-covid-19-updates/ .”
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.”