🥊 The bar exam won’t go down without a fight

Think that sitting in a crowded classroom in the time of coronavirus is dangerous? The makers of the bar exam say letting young lawyers practice without taking the bar is dangerous, too, according to Law.com. 

  • Hold up, wasn’t the bar exam going to be canceled?: A few weeks ago, influential legal groups shared that opinion. The ABA had even urged states to let new attorneys have limited practicing privileges if they decided to cancel or postpone the exam. And six states, including New York, have postponed the test.

  • Delays and cancellations seemed like the only option: Given technological constraints, a committee of law professors reasoned that cancellation was the best choice. Some states, including Wisconsin, allow lawyers to practice without passing the bar already (it’s called diploma privilege). And Utah has proposed granting emergency diploma privilege this year for graduates of law schools with first-time bar passage rates of 86 percent or higher.

  • But the National Conference of Bar Examiners has fired back: That’s the group that makes the tests. The NCBE argues that without a bar exam a wave of unprepared, unqualified attorneys will be released into the wild and could potentially offer bad legal representation. The NCBE also notes cancellation could lead to adverse financial ramifications for new graduates.       

Of course, there’s another financial incentive

The NCBE happens to make a lot of money designing tests. It made $26 million in revenue in 2018, according to Law.com. A year without tests could be painful.     

The Verdict

Law school graduation is a month away. The bar exam is still more than three months away. States have a few weeks to make a final decision, and they’re likely going to wait it out.