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California’s Supreme Court on Thursday evening rewrote plans for the state’s fall bar exam, canceling the in-person test set for September, setting a two-day online test in October and authorizing a provisional licensing plan that will allow law school graduates to temporarily practice law without passing the test.

Additionally, the court ordered that the score needed to pass the test—a figure known as the cut score—be permanently reduced from 145 to 139. The previous cut score was the second highest in the nation and regularly resulted in thousands of law school graduates failing a test that they would have passed under other states’ scoring rules.

The whirlwind of COVID-19-inspired changes, announced by the court on its website and in a letter to the state bar, does not grant diploma privilege, which would have allowed recent graduates to practice permanently in California without taking the exam. Law school deans and alumni had lobbied for the exemption due to COVID-19-related hardships.

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Cheryl Miller

Cheryl Miller, based in Sacramento, covers the state legislature and emerging industries, including autonomous vehicles and marijuana. She authors the weekly cannabis newsletter Higher Law. Contact her at [email protected]. On Twitter: @CapitalAccounts

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