Bar Examinations and Bar Passage

The Bar Exam and the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Need for Immediate Action

Claudia Angelos, New York University
Sara J. Berman, AccessLex Institute
Mary Lu Bilek, CUNY School of Law
Carol L. Chomsky, University of Minnesota Law School
Andrea A. Curcio, Georgia State University School of Law
Marsha Griggs, Washburn University School of Law
Joan W. Howarth, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Boyd School of Law
Eileen Kaufman, Touro College, Fuchsberg Law Center
Deborah Jones Merritt, Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law
Patricia E. Salkin, Touro College, Fuchsberg Law Center
Judith Welch Wegner, University of North Carolina School of Law


The novel coronavirus COVID-19 has profoundly disrupted life in the United States. Among other challenges, jurisdictions are unlikely to be able to administer the July 2020 bar exam in the usual manner. It is essential, however, to continue licensing new lawyers. Those lawyers are necessary to meet current needs in the legal system. Equally important, the demand for legal services will skyrocket during and after this pandemic. We cannot close doors to the profession at a time when client demand will reach an all-time high.

In this brief policy paper, we outline six licensing options for jurisdictions to consider for the Class of 2020. Circumstances will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but we hope that these options will help courts and regulators make this complex decision. These are unprecedented times: We must work together to ensure we do not leave the talented members of Class of 2020 on the sidelines when we need every qualified professional on the field to keep our justice system moving.