CURRENT MONTH (March 2020)

Professional Responsibility

COVID-19 and the July Bar Exam

By Keith R. Fisher

In the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, eleven female law professors have authored a working paper urging immediate consideration by state bar authorities of alternatives to the July bar exam. Arguing that prohibitions on large gatherings are likely still to be in force, the paper offers six alternatives to licensing this year’s law graduates. The suggestions are (1) postpone the exam (which several states are considering); (2) administer it online (which would require the NCBE to reconfigure the uniform bar examination, which is now offered in more than half the states); (3) administer it in small groups of 10 people at a time; (4) provide a diploma privilege (akin to what Wisconsin offers graduates of its state law schools) to 2020 graduates of ABA-accredited law schools; (5) provide the diploma privilege in conjunction with satisfactory competition of additional education requirements; and (6) allow the graduates to practice only under the close supervision of a licensed attorney (which harkens back to the pre-legal academy days of “reading the law”—which is what Kim Kardashian has said she wants to do, which several U.S. Presidents (including John Adams, Abe Lincoln, and even Woodrow Wilson) did, and which several states still permit).

Impact of COVID-19 On CLE Requirements

By Keith R. Fisher

In view of the extreme dislocations caused by COVID-19 and the phenomena of teleworking, self-quarantine, state bans on gatherings above a specified number of people, and related events, many states that impose Continuing Legal Education (CLE) requirements on their practicing lawyers are adopting modifications. Some states are postponing CLE deadlines, either short-term (until late spring) or longer term (late summer or into the fall). By far the most common approach is to suspend in-person programs and allow satisfaction of CLE requirements via online offerings. Some states have a hybrid approach: postponing in-person CLE sessions but allowing satisfaction of the requirements online without regard to the postponement. 

During the current public health crisis, readers subject to mandatory CLE requirements should consult their state bar associations to ascertain how their CLE obligations may be satisfied. 




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