The July 2020 Bar Exam Amidst Covid19 Concerns

Hello everyone!

I received a really good question today on Twitter about the upcoming/possibly upcoming July 2020 bar exam. I thought I would share it with you now and expand upon my twitter response.

The student asked me if she should go ahead and register for the July 2020 exam and pay the late fee. My advice to her was that if it were me, I definitely would register. Here are the reasons why I think anyone who is debating about registering for the July bar exam due to Covid19 concerns should register:

Looking at the history of the California bar examiners, they are fair about mishaps and would certainly be fair under the current circumstances. If you recall the July 2019 debacle where the California bar examiners “inadvertently” released the exam questions, the bar examiners did two things. First, they released the same exam questions to all applicants. Second, they provided anyone with the option to have a full refund if they did not want to proceed with the July 2019 bar exam.

So here are my thoughts. There are three possible scenarios: 1) the July 2020 bar exam goes forward as planned, 2) the bar examiners postpone the July 2020 bar exam and 3) the July bar exam is cancelled.

Scenario 1: The bar exam goes forward as planned. If this happens, there will be no refunds. If the bar exam goes forward in July 2020, but you are immune compromised and not comfortable proceeding (assuming Covid19 is still a concern) then you can file an appeal with the California state bar requesting a refund. There is no guarantee you will receive a refund, but if you can provide medical documentation to support your request, you at least have a chance.

Scenario 2: The bar examiners postpone the July 2020 bar exam. If you have signed up for the July 2020 bar exam and it is postponed, the California bar examiners might not refund your fees and simply expect you to take the exam on a future date. However, if the July 2020 bar exam is postponed indefinitely, I believe that the California bar examiners will refund applicant’s fees. Again, you are always able to file an appeal, but without a really good reason, you are likely out of luck.

Scenario 3: The bar examiners cancel the July 2020 bar exam. If this happens, as I stated above, I believe that the bar examiners will refund applicant’s fees in full. However, I do not think that the California bar examiners will cancel the July 2020 bar exam. I think that they will either go forward as planned or post-pone the exam. In which case, there would likely be no refunds without a solid appeal.

Are the California bar examiners fair? While many people think that the California bar examiners are not fair, in my experience this has not been true. One example from several years ago: I had a student who developed a neurological condition that affected his hands. This occurred only a few weeks before the exam. Because of his condition, he was unable to type (he was signed up as a laptop taker) and unable to write. I contacted the California bar examiners on his behalf and they told me what he needed to do. He prepared a request for a refund and supported it with a detailed letter from his doctor. My student was a given a full refund.

The current status with the California bar examiners is that the July 2020 exam is going forward as planned. But, they recommend that you check the California state bar website  daily for updates. This certainly is a signal that the exam might not go forward as planned. You can be sure that the California bar examiners will do everything they can to have the July 2020 bar exam held as planned. But, with Covid19 concerns, this might not be possible.

So where does this leave applicants? You should start preparing now! The likelihood of the July 2020 bar exam going forward is very possible. Or the bar examiners might postpone it. Either way, you need to be prepared to take the exam. Many law school students around the country are petitioning to be allowed to practice law under the supervision of a licensed attorney. So far, no state bar has given in to this request and you can be certain that the California bar examiners will not adopt this idea.

I will provide a series of videos and blog posts on how to cope with preparing for the bar exam during the Covid19 crisis. Please stay tune and be safe.

All the best,

Lisa Duncanson

Lisa Duncanson
Founder/Program Director established 1999
office: 213-529-0990virus-4937553_1920