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Michael Ariens, professor of law at the St. Mary’s University School of Law.

On July 3, the Supreme Court of Texas canceled the July 2020 bar examination, kept a September in-person bar examination, ordered the creation of an October remote bar examination and somehow failed to offer an alternative licensure option despite five justices calling for one. The court correctly noted that “[i]n recent weeks, the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in Texas has changed significantly.” Despite understanding the unprecedented nature of the pandemic, the court failed to meet the challenge of re-thinking how to assess minimum competency in the practice of law.

When the COVID-19 pandemic first struck, the Texas Supreme Court on April 29 decided to keep the July administration and add a September administration. This decision, while debatable, was defensible. It assumed the pandemic would ease between its decision in late April and the end of July. In case it didn’t, a September back up was made available to examinees. While this meant that successful September examinees might lose about two months or so of time in the practice of law, that might be worth the ease of mind for those who chose a slight delay.

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