NYS Courts Announce Plan for February 2021 Bar Examination

Reposted from the NYS Court of Appeals website

In July 2020, as a consequence of the health crisis, the Court made the difficult decision to cancel the September 2020 in-person bar examination. At the same time, Chief Judge DiFiore announced the creation of a Working Group to study the future of the bar exam in New York. The Working Group recommended that, as an emergency measure, New York administer a remote bar exam on October 5 and 6 using materials prepared by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). The Court adopted that recommendation.

While the Board of Law Examiners continues to gather and study the data, our preliminary assessment is that, despite the novel procedure, this was a very successful administration of the bar examination. Of the 5,167 applicants who downloaded the exam software and were scheduled to take the remote exam on October 5 and 6, 2020, all but 17 successfully completed the entire exam. The Court thanks the Board and the staff for their hard work and dedication, the exam takers for their patience and perseverance and the New York law schools for their assistance in this process, particularly in making space available for those in need of a suitable testing venue.

Looking ahead to the February 2021 bar exam, on October 19, 2020, the NCBE announced it will make a full set of exam materials available, requiring jurisdictions to choose between an in-person or remote administration of the February exam. Although the Court originally anticipated that a remote exam would be administered on a one-time basis, the threat posed by the pandemic has not abated sufficiently to permit the Board to safely conduct in-person testing of large numbers of bar applicants in New York, and it is therefore necessary to again consider a remote option. Accordingly, in consultation with the Board of Law Examiners and the Chair of the Working Group, the Hon. Howard A. Levine, and at the urging of the Deans of the New York law schools, the Court has determined that New York will administer a remote bar exam in February 2021. Details concerning the eligibility criteria and registration process for the February exam will be announced shortly by the Board of Law Examiners. Our goal remains a safe and secure administration for all those involved.

Prior Bar Examination and Legal Education updates can be accessed here.