The New York State Court of Appeals announced late Tuesday that it will seek to have the July bar exam rescheduled for “early September,” adding some degree of certainty for soon-to-be law graduates worried about gaining admission to practice.

In the same announcement, the court said that it had authorized Chief Judge Janet DiFiore to explore the possibility of permitting law graduates waiting to take the bar examination or waiting for test results to practice under the supervision of licensed attorneys.

The news comes as New York on Friday became the first jurisdiction to officially postpone the July bar exam and it follows a recommendation Monday by the New York State Bar Association Task Force on the New York Bar Examination to reschedule the postponed July bar exam to a date close to Labor Day.

A date close to Labor Day would mean a relatively short six- or seven-week delay for law students, allowing them to study over the summer. That date also would allow them to take the test before they start their jobs in the fall. About 10,000 law graduates under usual circumstances would have taken the July exam.

“Our task force is very proud that our report contributed to the court’s wise and prudent decision,” said Justice Alan Scheinkman, presiding justice of the Appellate Division of the Second Judicial Department.

The specific date for the test will require coordination with the National Conference of Bar Examiners, which develops the test. The NCBE said last week that it will offer a separate exam in the fall for jurisdictions that can’t or don’t want to move ahead with the test in July amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The move to fall bar exams is distressing many law students, who fear additional postponements and cancellations if the COVID-19 pandemic drags on as some public health officials predict. Those changes could put their professional future on hold for the foreseeable future, they say.


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