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The California Supreme Court has postponed the state bar exam for licensing new lawyers from July to Sept. 9 and 10.
The court on Monday also ordered the State Bar of California “to make every effort possible to administer that examination online with remote and/or electronic proctoring.”
About 9,000 new law school graduates had been expected to take the exam on the previous dates of July 28 and 29.
The California high court is the parent agency of the State Bar, which licenses and regulates the state’s more than 250,000 lawyers.
At least 10 other states, including New York and Massachusetts, have postponed bar exams until the fall or indefinitely, and others are considering doing so, according to the National Conference of Bar Examiners.
In a letter to the San Francisco-based State Bar, the California court said its decision to postpone the exam balanced coronavirus health and safety concerns with the public interest in making sure that Californians have “access to justice through competent and qualified legal services.”
The postponement of the exam was one of two options recommended to the court by the State Bar Board of Trustees in mid-April.
The other option would have been to cancel the exam, while working out a plan for provisional certification of law school graduates to practice law under the supervision of experienced attorneys.
While not accepting the second option, the court said it “will continue to explore other options as circumstances develop or change.” The panel’s letter said that if a September exam is later determined to be impractical, the court will consider amending its directive.