Texas Supreme Court Cancels The Bar Exam In July, Schedules October Online Test

Texas Supreme Court Cancels The Bar Exam In July, Schedules October Online Test

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a lot of countries into the wringer, and the US is no exception. Texas, in particular, got hit hard, with a surge in cases early in June. In response, the Texas Supreme Court canceled the bar exam scheduled for July and scheduled an online test on October.

The announcement, visible at their website, was due to an emergency order, did allow for the scheduling of an in-person bar exam to be available, should the government and public health officials consider it safe, at Sept. 9-10.

The Supreme Court recently reduced the regularly scheduled bar exam in July from 3 days to just 2, on top of adding a 2-day September test and safety requirements, which include, among other things, mandatory face masks, in order to cut down on the odds of COVID-19 transmission.

The in-person testing was cancelled, however, due to deans from 10 Texan law schools, including the dean of the University of Texas, petitioning the Supreme Court. The 10 deans stated that in-person testing would be too dangerous, even with safety precautions, with Texas seeing increasing COVID-19 cases throughout the state.

Their sentiments were even backed up by law students across the state.

The Supreme Court held a debate on the matter, with the order coming out with four concurring opinions against one dissent.

Justices Eva Guzman and Debra Lehrmann stated that they were against the removal of the tests as a licensing requirement because it would attract a lot of flak, primarily questions about consumer protection on their rights.

They did, however, state that an online bar exam on their website is a reasonable and safe alternative for the Supreme Court and future lawyers, one that works nicely with their longstanding requirements for licensing.

Justices Brett Busby and Jane Bland suggesting an apprenticeship program in place of the in-person test, while Justice Jimmy Blacklock wanted the ones who signed up for the July test to be able to take it as planned.

In contrast, Chief Justice Nathan Hecht and Justice Paul Green dissented, saying that the law students who were registered for the in-person test in July, as well as the online test in September, basically had the ability to practice law without actually taking the exam.

 

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