Corona Virus Impact on Bar Exams

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diatribe

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Corona Virus Impact on Bar Exams

Postby diatribe » Fri Mar 13, 2020 11:27 am

I'm actually surprised I haven't seen anything about this here, as I would've thought it'd be the top thing on everybody's mind

Obviously the nation's bar exams are still months out, but major events that are months out are already getting prematurely cancelled. If there ever were a large gathering of people, it's in the enormously packed bar exam rooms. I recall my room having over a thousand examinees

This is especially true considering I know that this year San Diego County, a place with three law schools, isn't getting its own exam site. That just means hundreds of more examinees in the Los Angeles and Orange County Areas.

I know many of you have post-bars or trips meticulously scheduled for after the bar exam, and no doubt being unable to take the bar exam on schedule or at all could severely impact careers and livelihoods. I am already concerned about my own work being temporarily stopped or slowed, but I at least have the ability to practice.

The other concern would obviously be the impact these societal shutdowns have on bar prep, something most graduates dedicate 90% or more of their free time toward. Clearly there are serious medical concerns people have that supersede their concerns for the bar, but it is not as though those medical risks have hit a point that our society disregards serious financial impacts.

I'm not posting this to scare anyone. I am genuinely concerned for you all and hope this all blows over before any decisions are made to cancel or postpone the July bar exam. At the least, I hope the bar examiners can figure out some alternative procedures to allow you all the ability to take the exam as scheduled. I just could not believe this was not something that has popped up here, in light of the usual norm of TLSers freaking out over more minor things

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Re: Corona Virus Impact on Bar Exams

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Mar 13, 2020 1:17 pm

I think July is too far out to assume that we'll still have the kinds of safety measures rolling out now in effect.

That said, all bar prep courses can be taken remotely now, so I don't see this being any issue for prep.

diatribe

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Re: Corona Virus Impact on Bar Exams

Postby diatribe » Fri Mar 13, 2020 2:00 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I think July is too far out to assume that we'll still have the kinds of safety measures rolling out now in effect.

That said, all bar prep courses can be taken remotely now, so I don't see this being any issue for prep.


I guess for bar prep my concern would be more so related to issues of focus and study time, given places being shut down and resources being more scarce (like with the recent runs on costco) or examinees with kids having to focus on watching their kids who are now at home due to school closures

You're right though, a lot could happen by July. I hope this is even over by May because I hear some graduations are being cancelled and I'd hate for my friends who put in so much hard work to have it just brushed off without a ceremony

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Re: Corona Virus Impact on Bar Exams

Postby Pennoyer v. Meh » Fri Mar 13, 2020 9:15 pm

The MPRE went forward today, which surprised me. Obviously things could be a lot worse in July, but they could be a lot better, too.

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Re: Corona Virus Impact on Bar Exams

Postby billybobbarguy » Sat Mar 14, 2020 7:14 am

The issue for me is that I have flights booked into the US from Europe and hotels set up for July, so would need to know a lot sooner if the exam is going ahead. A lot of foreign takers will be in the same boat, especially with the current ban on people from Europe/US citizens having to self isolate on return for 14 days.

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Re: Corona Virus Impact on Bar Exams

Postby JoeSeperac » Sat Mar 14, 2020 5:58 pm

billybobbarguy wrote:The issue for me is that I have flights booked into the US from Europe and hotels set up for July, so would need to know a lot sooner if the exam is going ahead. A lot of foreign takers will be in the same boat, especially with the current ban on people from Europe/US citizens having to self isolate on return for 14 days.


New York is in a state of emergency which bans gatherings of 500 or more people, meaning if this ban is in effect in July, the exam would need to be held at small venues. Coupled with all the travel bans, etc. the cancelling of the exam is certainly a possibility. The application filing period for the July 2020 exam is April 1 – 30, 2020, so I would think that something needs to be announced rather soon. I would simply keep checking https://www.nybarexam.org/ for guidance.

As far as I am aware, New York has never cancelled an exam and only once postponed it for certain examinees when the exam fell on a Jewish holiday (but this was scheduled more than one month in advance).

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Re: Corona Virus Impact on Bar Exams

Postby QContinuum » Sun Mar 15, 2020 2:37 am

It's anyone's guess what will happen with state bar exams.

My completely uninformed speculation is that, given that the end of July is 4 and half months from now, bar examiners are very unlikely to cancel or reschedule July testing at this time. Until and unless prospective examinees are told otherwise by bar examiners, they should assume "business as usual" and adhere to existing deadlines for registering (and sending in paperwork etc.) for the July exam.

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Re: Corona Virus Impact on Bar Exams

Postby JoeSeperac » Wed Mar 18, 2020 10:48 am

NYBOLE posted the following yesterday:

The Board’s office is closed until further notice as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. … What impact the on-going COVID-19 crisis will have on the July 2020 Uniform Bar Examination is presently unknown. Please monitor the Board's website for updated information. We thank you for your patience and understanding.

Since the exam has never been cancelled, you have to assume it will not be cancelled. However, I have my doubts as to whether there will be a July 2020 exam in NY. Let’s assume that the pandemic is somewhat stable in July 2020. The NY bar exam is truly one of the easiest ways to create a new virus outbreak. First, you are putting hundreds, if not thousands of people in close proximity to one another (e.g. waiting on line, using the bathrooms) for two full days. Second, since this is a high-stakes exam and many examinees have spent many months and thousands of dollars preparing for it, if an examinee has the virus but is asymptomatic (or slightly symptomatic), the examinee would probably still attend the exam rather than self-quarantine because of the exam’s importance. Finally, over 3,000 foreign examinees take the July NY bar exam from 125 different countries.
See http://seperac.com/pdf/NY%20Bar%20Exam% ... 202013.pdf

There is no better recipe for a new virus outbreak than to bring in people from 100+ different counties, force them to stay together for two days where it’s almost a certainty that a few will have the virus, and then let them all fly back to their counties afterwards (assuming there is no travel ban that prevents this). Maybe the bar examiners will segregate foreign and domestic examinees, or maybe they will have the exam in September. An online exam is a remote possibility (no pun intended) but I think there would be too many problems with exam security and ADA concerns for this to be feasible.

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Re: Corona Virus Impact on Bar Exams

Postby LSATWiz.com » Wed Mar 18, 2020 12:05 pm

A lot of it depends on how the virus manifests itself in the coming months, which is unknown. I am no doctor but I day-trade in addition to legal practice and managing our LSAT tutoring, and have read every medical study about COVID-19 I could get my hands on to try to predict which biotech companies to invest in and decide whether to get out of the non-biotech market altogether.

The idea the virus won't last in warm weather assumes it operates like other viruses. All of the (limited) data we have suggests warm weather will have a minimal impact beyond the fact that germs don't survive as long on hard surfaces in warm weather. This means that you're less likely to get the virus touching a shopping cart in July than in January, but probably just as likely to catch it from someone else. There is also the fact that based on our limited knowledge from China, getting and surviving the virus once does not seem to make one any less likely to extract the virus a second time. Quarantining or self-isolation is probably necessary, but will also make people likelier to get the virus given that people don't sleep as well and can't exercise when they are locked inside.

All of this suggests that the virus is statistically unlikely to go away and will probably be a fixture of day to day life until a vaccine or treatment is developed. Gilead Pharmaceuticals has a drug that has reportedly had a 100% survival rate among its 300+ patients and rapidly speeds up recovery, but it has likely side effects and likely will only be used in more extreme cases (assuming it gets FDA approval). Other companies claim to be making great progress on vaccines, but these claims have to be taken with a grain of salt given the financial incentives for those holding many shares of these companies to exaggerate such claims. I just don't think that anyone who reads the medical reports and studies on how the virus adapts and spreads in earnest would honestly say any standardized test will be held in the next year unless there are changes in how those tests are administered. My sense is world governments have known that nobody will be returning to work for >12 months for some time, but feared the economy would collapse if they came out and said this on February 1.

This is all to say that COVID-19 probably won't go away in 3 months or 6 months unless a vaccine is invented and widely available. It is far more likely that the virus will first start to peak in July than that it will be safe to put 100s of people together in a closed classroom. My guess is the only way the July 2020 bar exam (or any subsequent LSAT) takes place is if technology is developed that allows test takers to take the test from the privacy of their own home while having necessary safeguards in place.

Alternatively, a COVID-19 testing site could be set up outside the test center to ensure that everyone coming in for the exam is tested before arrival, but this would likely delay the exam by 2-3 hours, and assumes that states will allow such a large # of people to group together even if they are tested. If someone is sick, the reality is that making people get tested outside the test center before entering it won't meaningfully prevent the virus from spreading.

While I am only a lawyer who has read studies on COVID-19 in a half-hearted attempt to game the stock market, I would not bet on the July 2020 bar exam taking place if someone gave me 20:1 odds. I'd need 100:1 odds to consider it. It's much more likely that the ABA will either ease restrictions on the unauthorized practice of law to make it easier for law clerks to secure remote employment and/or have a staggered from of testing wherein groups of under 10 people take the test in each building. Realistically, it seems unlikely to expect anything like 200 people sitting in a room for at least the next 18 months. My sense is world governments have known this for some time but feared coming out and saying it day one would lead to an economic collapse. It's much easier to say, "Country, you're not returning to the office for the next year and a half" when the country is already accustomed to working remotely.

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Re: Corona Virus Impact on Bar Exams

Postby EnjoyIllinois » Thu Mar 26, 2020 10:47 am

The ABA Journal ran a story on a working paper that came out on March 23rd on a possible solution for the July 2020 Bar exam. It's from an unpublished paper and it's just a suggestion at this point, but 11 academics contributed to the work.

The idea is diploma privilege for all 50 states.

Diploma privilege means licensing most graduates of the state's law schools without having them take a qualifying exam. Wisconsin has had diploma privilege for years (though only for graduates of Wisconsin law schools).

Issues to consider are that COVID could increase the need for certain legal services (think evictions, foreclosures, immigration, bankruptcy). But flooding the country with incapable lawyers would be to the public's detriment too.

Posting a link to the article:
See also the link to the working paper within
https://www.abajournal.com/news/article/in-light-of-the-coronavirus-crisis-working-paper-suggests-alternatives-to-the-july-bar-exam?fbclid=IwAR3hzE6Hji_SuYMbKOIwZ7YiHubADgYBmHyNI7xQVLYR6mHIeVCLCJnZDOE

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Re: Corona Virus Impact on Bar Exams

Postby StopLawying » Thu Mar 26, 2020 2:06 pm

Solution: Forget the essays and administer a multiple-choice-only exam online. 4 hours, 100 questions.

What about the concern that people will cheat? Unfortunately, that’s something you can’t eliminate; there will always be those assholes who take advantage. But if the only alternative is emergency diploma, which will provide a license to everyone, isn’t the multiple choice format the better option? At least it will weed out some people.
Last edited by QContinuum on Thu Mar 26, 2020 4:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Outed for anon abuse.

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Re: Corona Virus Impact on Bar Exams

Postby QContinuum » Thu Mar 26, 2020 4:33 pm

QContinuum wrote:It's anyone's guess what will happen with state bar exams.

My completely uninformed speculation is that, given that the end of July is 4 and half months from now, bar examiners are very unlikely to cancel or reschedule July testing at this time. Until and unless prospective examinees are told otherwise by bar examiners, they should assume "business as usual" and adhere to existing deadlines for registering (and sending in paperwork etc.) for the July exam.

Updating my completely uninformed speculation above - my current completely uninformed speculation is that, while prospective examinees should still adhere to existing deadlines for registering/paperwork/etc. until and unless officially told otherwise by the relevant jurisdiction, it's likely that many jurisdictions, and most of the "major" jurisdictions (CA, NY, IL, MA, DC), will not administer the bar in July. It's anyone's guess at this point what they do instead.

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Re: Corona Virus Impact on Bar Exams

Postby LSATWiz.com » Thu Mar 26, 2020 4:35 pm

I see diploma privilege resulting in a four-stage process.

(1) Cooley opens doors in all 50 states, drops their admission requirements entirely, and graduates tens of thousands of attorneys per year.

(2) Cooley grads lose, all lawyers lose, clients lose when their lawyers don’t know basic laws, and the taxpayers lose when the loans default. Cooley’s trustees wind up on Forbes’ 10 wealthiest in America.

(3) Cooley subsequently uses its newfound power and influence to convince the Medical Board to do the same. It thereafter opens med schools in all 50 states. Rates of medical malpractice increase fifty fold, but because rates of legal malpractice also increase fifty fold, there is a never ending cycle of litigation.

(4) The country erupts in chaos, and the military is called in to restore order, but by this point Cooley has accumulated so much wealth it is able to pay all the generals to defect with their forces. The military is then all under the control of Cooley, and the dean declares himself dictator over the United Territories of Cooley. A thousand year long winter ensues.

The alternative would be inconveniencing law clerks by making them take a few months off from their jobs to take the test in September or October resulting in a three stage process:

(1) Law graduates take bar trips before taking the bar rather than after it.
(2) Law clerks go two to three weeks without pay.
(3) Their lives and those of their descendants are irreparably harmed.

Either option has negative costs associated with it. Reasonable minds could differ on which outcome is worse.

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Re: Corona Virus Impact on Bar Exams

Postby yespasscbx » Fri Mar 27, 2020 3:20 am

Here comes the update from NCBE

http://www.ncbex.org/ncbe-covid-19-updates

Fall Exam seems possible!!

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Re: Corona Virus Impact on Bar Exams

Postby Johnnybgoode92 » Fri Mar 27, 2020 8:02 am

LSATWiz.com wrote:I see diploma privilege resulting in a four-stage process.

(1) Cooley opens doors in all 50 states, drops their admission requirements entirely, and graduates tens of thousands of attorneys per year.

(2) Cooley grads lose, all lawyers lose, clients lose when their lawyers don’t know basic laws, and the taxpayers lose when the loans default. Cooley’s trustees wind up on Forbes’ 10 wealthiest in America.

(3) Cooley subsequently uses its newfound power and influence to convince the Medical Board to do the same. It thereafter opens med schools in all 50 states. Rates of medical malpractice increase fifty fold, but because rates of legal malpractice also increase fifty fold, there is a never ending cycle of litigation.

(4) The country erupts in chaos, and the military is called in to restore order, but by this point Cooley has accumulated so much wealth it is able to pay all the generals to defect with their forces. The military is then all under the control of Cooley, and the dean declares himself dictator over the United Territories of Cooley. A thousand year long winter ensues.

The alternative would be inconveniencing law clerks by making them take a few months off from their jobs to take the test in September or October resulting in a three stage process:

(1) Law graduates take bar trips before taking the bar rather than after it.
(2) Law clerks go two to three weeks without pay.
(3) Their lives and those of their descendants are irreparably harmed.

Either option has negative costs associated with it. Reasonable minds could differ on which outcome is worse.


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blair.waldorf

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Re: Corona Virus Impact on Bar Exams

Postby blair.waldorf » Fri Mar 27, 2020 11:44 am

I think it’s pretty crappy for state Bars to make a definitive decision four months out. A LOT can happen in four months. It’s unlikely but possible an effective treatment comes out and we can all return to living relatively normally. It would suck to postpone the bar (and thus many jobs) until September if an effective treatment comes out in June.

I know people want answers, but it seems like the better option would be to plan for July right now but have a Plan B in place that could be easily switched to.

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Re: Corona Virus Impact on Bar Exams

Postby Johnnybgoode92 » Fri Mar 27, 2020 1:33 pm

blair.waldorf wrote:I think it’s pretty crappy for state Bars to make a definitive decision four months out. A LOT can happen in four months. It’s unlikely but possible an effective treatment comes out and we can all return to living relatively normally. It would suck to postpone the bar (and thus many jobs) until September if an effective treatment comes out in June.

I know people want answers, but it seems like the better option would be to plan for July right now but have a Plan B in place that could be easily switched to.


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Re: Corona Virus Impact on Bar Exams

Postby Emowasawesome » Fri Mar 27, 2020 1:49 pm

yespasscbx wrote:Here comes the update from NCBE

http://www.ncbex.org/ncbe-covid-19-updates

Fall Exam seems possible!!


The Corona translation: when officials say possible, that should be interpreted to mean probable.

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Re: Corona Virus Impact on Bar Exams

Postby fearandtremblingg » Fri Mar 27, 2020 2:05 pm

Wouldn't it make the most sense to give all 2020 grads a temporary diploma privilege in all jurisdictions that expires upon the release of examination results of the next administered exam? It seems unfair to allow all 2020 grads to be exempt from the exam when 2021 grads will most certainly have to take it. It's also unfair to prohibit 2020 grads from practicing due to factors outside of their control. This seems like the most equitable way so that all 2020 grads eventually have to take the exam, but aren't penalized from practicing immediately.

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Re: Corona Virus Impact on Bar Exams

Postby salexander » Fri Mar 27, 2020 3:24 pm

fearandtremblingg wrote:Wouldn't it make the most sense to give all 2020 grads a temporary diploma privilege in all jurisdictions that expires upon the release of examination results of the next administered exam? It seems unfair to allow all 2020 grads to be exempt from the exam when 2021 grads will most certainly have to take it. It's also unfair to prohibit 2020 grads from practicing due to factors outside of their control. This seems like the most equitable way so that all 2020 grads eventually have to take the exam, but aren't penalized from practicing immediately.


Your solution is self-defeating. The purpose of diploma privilege would be to allow us to get started in our careers, but firms won't hire and give a docket to someone they know will have to be out studying for the bar a few months down the line. The fairness to 2021 grads is irrelevant. They will in all likelihood have a commencement ceremony and less stress about whether the firm that committed to hiring them will be following through in the fall.

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Re: Corona Virus Impact on Bar Exams

Postby TheJuryMustDie » Sun Mar 29, 2020 6:18 am

"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."

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Re: Corona Virus Impact on Bar Exams

Postby Johnnybgoode92 » Sun Mar 29, 2020 8:31 am

TheJuryMustDie wrote:"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."


Just wait until the virus comes back in waves throughout the summer and fall. Maybe they’ll pencil us in for February!

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