Law school grads will now take ‘open-book’ bar exam

LA Supreme Court issues order due to COVID-19

The Louisiana Supreme Court building on Royal Street in New Orleans. The statue of segregationist Edward White, a former Louisiana Supreme Court justice and Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court was relocated inside Wednesday. (Photo by Jarvis DeBerry)

The Louisiana Supreme Court issued an order Wednesday making the state bar exam an “open-book” email test due to the ongoing risks posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The order applies to the next two scheduled Bar exams on Aug. 24 and Oct. 10, according to a Louisiana Supreme Court press release.

The bar exam is one of the final major hurdles law school graduates must pass in order to become licensed to practice law.

The exams will be in “open-book format” and offered remotely through email with no live monitoring or proctoring, according to the court order. Applicants will receive the exam questions by email and submit answers by replying to an email address established by the Louisiana Supreme Court Committee on Bar Admissions.

Test takers are able to use any outside materials but are prohibited from seeking or accepting assistance from another person during the exam, the press release said.

“The Louisiana Supreme Court Committee on Bar Admissions has worked diligently throughout this pandemic to find workable solutions which will allow applicants the ability to safely sit for the Bar Exam while being mindful of issues which may present themselves that could affect the applicants’ ability to test,” Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Johnson said. “The Committee on Bar Admissions advised that it is not feasible to administer the remote bar examinations utilizing the current software vendor, therefore today’s Order provides Bar Exam applicants with the opportunity to sit for the Bar Exam without further delay due to conditions presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and possible unexpected technical issues which may have interrupted their remote testing.”

Applicants must still complete all other requirements for admission set forth in Louisiana Supreme Court Rule XVII, including satisfying character and fitness requirements and passing the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination.

Wednesday’s order follows a July 22 order from the Louisiana Supreme Court that amended the bar exam rules to allow students to take the test remotely rather than in person.

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