Supreme Court

Court Cancels July Bar Exam, Orders Online Exam in October and Option to Take Test in September in Person 


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The emergency order allows exam-takers to choose between in-person September exam and an online test in October

In an order issued Friday the Texas Supreme Court canceled the two-day in-person July Texas bar examination in response to accelerating COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions in the state and approved an alternative online test in October.

The Court’s 19th emergency order specifies that the Board of Law Examiners should administer an online examination October 5-6 and keep an option for an in-person test to be offered September 9-10, “subject to guidance from public health authorities.”

Earlier orders
Rules governing bar admission, allowing extensions for supervised practice
Final approval of revised supervised-practice rules
Establishing a second bar exam, in September, and allowing fees paid for the July exam to be used for the September exam or later test

The latest order notes the October online examination will include 100 Multistate Bar Examination questions, one Multistate Performance Test question, Procedure and Evidence questions and 12 Texas-essay questions. The Board will determine how the exam will be weighted and scores should be ready by December 4.

Scores from the September exam should be ready in mid- to late November, according to the Board.

The Court’s considered Board of Law Examiners’ proposals and those by the 10 Texas law-school deans as well as letters from recent law-school graduates, other public input and an online petition calling for a “diploma privilege” that would allow law-school graduates to be licensed without taking the bar exam. After a special meeting Thursday the Board of Law Examiners proposed canceling the July and September in-person exam dates and suggested the alternative online examination in October.

The Court directed the Board to establish procedures for new applicants who did not register in time for the September bar examination to apply for that examination or for the one in October.

Under existing orders applicants may delay their bar examinations beyond this fall, to February, allowing them to practice law under supervision of a licensed attorney.

A month ago the Court approved shortening the traditional two-and-a-half-day test for the July exam and authorized a special September date to reduce the number of bar exam-takers, following the Board of Law Examiners’ recommendation.

Friday’s order noted four concurrences and a dissent.