Statement From Senator Hoylman & Assemblymember Simon On The Cancellation Of September's Bar Exam

NEW YORK—Today, the New York State Board of Law Examiners canceled the September 9-10 administration of the New York Bar Exam in response to COVID-19 concerns. 

While this decision avoids the immediate disaster of potential “superspreader” events at testing sites across the state, the lack of clarity regarding future plans for admission to practice law leaves thousands of law school graduates in disarray. 

Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, who introduced legislation to provide modified diploma privilege for law school graduates, released the following statement in response:

“The 2020 New York Bar Exam has become a rolling disaster for law school graduates. The simplest and most equitable solution is providing graduates with diploma privilege.

“Further delays in admitting this year’s class of aspiring attorneys to practice law will disadvantage graduates from low-income households who cannot afford an extra month or more without income, and hurt graduates who are caretakers of children or elderly parents. The chaos and lack of clarity will have a devastating financial impact on those attempting to begin their careers as legal professionals.”

Senator Hoylman and Assemblymember Simon’s legislation (S.8682-A/A.10794) creates a form of diploma privilege for the duration of the COVID-19 State of Emergency to allow law school graduates to be admitted to practice as attorneys in New York without having to take the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE). Washington, Oregon and Utah have already granted emergency diploma privilege to 2020 graduates.