The District of Columbia’s February bar exam is on track to take place as scheduled next month, after the prolonged partial government shutdown threw the test into uncertainty.
The District of Columbia court system’s Committee of Admissions announced late Friday that the exam will take place Feb. 26 and 27, and the District of Columbia Bar has committed to ensuring the exam is administered even if the government closes again before the test. The three-week deal to reopen the government extends through February 15.
“We apologize for the added stress and uncertainty that the government shutdown has caused; but we are pleased to be able to process your applications to sit for the February 2019 bar exam, and wish you success on the exam,” reads the message posted on the court’s website.
Late last week, at least five states, including New York and New Jersey, announced that they would allow certain DC bar takers to register for their tests. It’s unclear how many people had started the process of signing up for the test elsewhere. More than 600 people sat for the February bar in DC last year.
“I felt relieved when I saw the news Saturday morning, but there’s also some confusion,” said Shane Anthony Grannum, a Columbia Law School graduate who is registered for the DC exam.
Grannum spent Friday scrambling to register for the bar in Tennessee, which said it would let in the first 70 DC bar takers and would also honor the testing accommodations they had been approved for in DC—a major concern for Grannum. Now he’s not sure where he’ll be taking the test and if his second registration fee will be refunded.
“I’m somewhat concerned that if the government shuts down again, the exam will be canceled,” Grannum said Monday. “I’m not quite sure I trust them. It seems a bit uncertain to me whether they will be able to do it.”
The DC courts remained open during the 35-day shutdown, but several departments including the admissions committee and marriage bureau were closed. The federal government controls the district’s funding, though it has dispensation to keep essential functions open during federal government shutdowns.
The DC courts also postponed the swearing-in ceremony that was scheduled for January 25, and has not yet announced a new date.