Grading Switch Leads to Friction

What’s Happening To The July Bar?

The National Conference of Bar Examiners is offering jurisdictions the option to postpone the July bar exam until the fall.

But some law students are pushing for an emergency diploma privilege that would allow them to skip the exam completely, reports.

While the national conference has yet to cancel the July exam, it announced that it will make a final decision by May 5.

“By that time—roughly six weeks from now—each jurisdiction should be in a better position to determine whether administering a July exam is possible,” the announcement reads. “While this is not the immediate answer some are seeking, it does provide a definite timeline for [the national conference’s] decision about whether to make our tests available for July.”


A number of students set to graduate are lobbying their jurisdictions for a one-time emergency diploma privilege that would, essentially, allow them to practice law without taking or passing the bar.

“Given the nature of this pandemic, there is no guarantee we won’t be in the same position come the end of August that we are in now,” Brian Heckmann, a third-year student at Florida International University College of Law, tells “What would happen then? Keep kicking the can down the road and delay the ability for graduates to practice indefinitely?”

Legal academics and education policy experts penned a paper last week stressing that time is of the essence and jurisdictions need to act fast on making a decision on the bar exam. The authors argue that postponing the bar exam is dangerous as nobody really knows how long the pandemic may last.

“Even if some of the most rigorous restrictions have been lifted by July 28, prohibitions on large gatherings are likely to remain,” the authors write. “Attempting to administer the bar exam to hundreds of test-takers in a single room would endanger the test takers, staff administering the exam, and the public health.3 The variation in jurisdictional outbreaks and public health responses may also compromise the ability to set a single test date across the country.”

Sources:,, National Conference of Bar Examiners

Comments or questions about this article? Email us.