If you’re already admitted to practice in Arizona, thank your lucky stars because taking the July bar exam this year will be, like almost everything else during this pandemic, different.
Remember how stressed you were when you took the bar exam? Now add a face mask or shield, health screening, and social distancing to normal bar-exam stress and imagine that level of inner turmoil.
If Arizona’s July bar exam – which is still planned – follows recent history, more than 500 people will take it, in person, at the Phoenix Convention Center.
But that’s where normal stops this year.
Arizona Chief Justice Robert Brutinel has issued an administrative order detailing how the exam will occur ”to reduce risk” to test-takers.
Before the exam is even held, test-takers “must be physically located in and at all times remain in Arizona for no less than 14 days immediately before the commencement of the exam if the individual sitting is coming from a jurisdiction where the state or a political subdivision that has in place travel restrictions, significant health restrictions in addition to the CDC recommendations or some form of shelter in place order.”
Considering that most states already have lifted stay-at-home orders and are in the process of reopening, this may not be a problem. But if there is another wave of outbreaks, this could be an issue for some test-takers. The order delegated to the court’s administrative staff the authority to determine whether the 14-day requirement has been triggered.
Also before the exam, test-takers will have to submit a signed statement that they will comply with the 14-day requirement. They also will have to acknowledge they will be subject to health screenings, including temperature reading, and that “they will not be allowed to sit for all or part” of the exam if they have a temperature of 100.4 degrees or more, display symptoms of coughing or shortness of breath on the days of the exam, or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 during the previous 14 days.
At the exam, test-takers must wear a mask or face shield and sign a statement that during the previous 14 days they haven’t “exhibited coughing, shortness of breath or a temperature of 100.4 degrees or more”; to the best of their knowledge, had contact with an individual that has COVID-19; or traveled “to or from a foreign country or a state or a political subdivision that has in place travel restrictions, significant health restrictions in addition to the CDC recommendations or some form of shelter in place order.”
And anyone who wants testing accommodations – maybe sitting in a human hamster ball? – because of the virus is out of luck. The chief justice’s order said that social distancing, health screenings, and the face-mask (or face-shield) requirement are the accommodations.
Arizona is among the more than half of U.S. jurisdictions currently planning to hold a July exam as normally scheduled. But the bar-exam situation across the U.S. is complicated and still in flux. (See the National Conference of Bar Examiners’ website for up-to-date information.) Some jurisdictions have rescheduled their exams to either September 9 and 10 or September 30 and October 1. Some of the jurisdictions that still plan a July exam also plan to hold an exam on one of the fall pairs of dates, or have left open the possibility of holding a second exam. Some jurisdictions are limiting the number of test-takers.
A few jurisdictions also have made substantive changes. Utah, which is not planning on holding a July exam, has adopted a version of a diploma privilege. Michigan and Indiana will hold one-day online – instead of the traditional two-day in person – exams.