Bar Exam

Despite an increase in coronavirus cases, Arizona keeps plan for in-person July bar

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Despite public health concerns, Arizona is going forward with its plans for an in-person bar exam on July 28 and 29, but it will also offer a remote bar in October, the state supreme court announced Wednesday.

The July test will be the Uniform Bar Exam, with a portable score, but the October test is limited to Arizona accreditation, the court wrote in a Wednesday news release. Applicants signed up for the July exam can sit for the October test instead or transfer their application to the Feb. 21 administration, which will be the UBE, according to the news release.

Arizona reported 4,878 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, and 88 deaths related to the virus, according to the Arizona Republic. The state department of public health tweeted that the coronavirus is widespread in the state. The Washington Post’s COVID-19 tracker shows Arizona as the state with the highest daily reported cases per capita, and reports that Arizona showed a 17% increase in cases in the past week.

On Monday, Gov. Douglas Ducey issued an executive order prohibiting public events of more than 50 people unless there are adequate safety measures in place, including physical distancing.

“The exam space is designed to comply with current health protocols to protect against the spread of the coronavirus, including one test-taker per six-foot table, mask requirements and health screening,” the Arizona Supreme Court wrote in its news release. If the July bar exam is canceled “for reasons outside the court’s control,” it will not be rescheduled, the release states.

Recent law school graduates filed a petition on Tuesday with the Arizona Supreme Court, asking that it grant diploma privilege for first-time graduates; lower the UBE cut score from 273 to 266; and open the discussion up to public comment. The court’s Wednesday response is insufficient to the petitioners’ concerns, says Alexis Boumstein, a 2020 graduate of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

“A majority of applicants can’t financially or mentally afford to wait until an October bar exam,” Boumstein wrote to the ABA Journal in an email. “I have never seen a clearer illustration of the haves and the have-nots. The haves get an option to take the October bar exam while the have-nots will be forced to take the July in-person bar exam.”

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