Bar Exams in the Pandemic JURIST Digital Scholars
Florida representatives urge Bar Examiners to consider alternatives to in-person exam
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Florida representatives urge Bar Examiners to consider alternatives to in-person exam

Florida representatives sent a letter to the Florida Board of Bar Examiners on Monday, expressing concern over holding the July bar exam in-person as COVID-19 cases continue to spike. Florida only has two test centers—one in Orlando and one in Tampa—to house nearly 2,000 bar takers.

Many, including Representative Carlos Smith, have urged the Board of Bar Examiners to consider all alternatives to an in-person bar exam. In his statement, Smith acknowledged that although a second test center was added, this action does not sufficiently mitigate the risk of coronavirus. He stated:

the second location does not mitigate the risk associated with traveling. Examinees will need to commute to one of these major cities and stay at a hotel for several nights, stopping at gas stations, airports, restaurants, and other public places along the way, increasing their chance of coronavirus exposure or spread.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of states have afforded recent law school graduates diploma privilege, allowing them to practice law without taking the bar exam. On April 7 the deans of 12 Florida law schools sent a letter to the Florida Board of Bar Examiners providing them with several alternatives to an in-person exam. These alternatives included additional testing sites to allow for social distancing, another testing date in September, allowing test takers to take the bar in parts, elongated certified legal intern status, or admission to the bar without taking the exam. However, the Florida Board of Bar Examiners has yet to adopt any of these alternative measures.

The Florida bar exam is set to take place in-person from July 28-29.

For more on COVID-19, see our special coverage.