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Supreme Court sets limits on bar exam during pandemic

The Missouri Supreme Court has enacted pandemic safety precautions for the July bar exam — if it takes place.

In an April 28 order, the court said the exam set for July 28 and 29 is proceeding as scheduled at this time, with an application deadline of June 1. However, the court said that if the exam cannot be administered in July, it will be held Sept. 9-10, though the deadline to apply remains the same.

In a statement on its website, the Board of Law Examiners, which administers the exam, said a decision is expected by June 15.

“If current national, state or local orders limiting gatherings to no more than 10 people continue in effect, MBLE will not administer the exam in July and will postpone to September 9-10,” the board said in its list of frequently asked questions.

The order also says students can delay taking the test until February without paying a postponement fee.

“Under today’s order, individuals with properly filed applications for the July 2020 examination may postpone taking the examination until February 2021 and may extend their certifications under Rule 13 to provide certain legal assistance under the supervision of a licensed Missouri attorney,” the court said in a news release that accompanied the order.

If the exam goes forward in July, the Board of Law Examiners will cap the number of people able to take the test at 760. In its statement, the board said it has secured additional testing venues to accommodate social distancing restrictions.

The board also may reduce the number of testing slots, however, if conditions require. If that happens, the court said applications will be accepted in the order received. The board said it will announce changes to the application cap between May 5 and the June 1 deadline.

No one taking the test for the fourth or more times will be accepted. But applicants who are not allowed to test because of those limits can carry forward the application fee to the next scheduled exam without penalty.

The court also said the testing facility will comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Students will not be allowed into the testing area if they do not meet those guidelines, including if they have a fever or are ill, have recently been quarantined or have had recent foreign travel. Students turned away will be able to take the test at the next scheduled sitting without paying additional fees. Those taking the test will be able to wear masks and gloves.

Coronavirus crisis

This item is part of Missouri Lawyers Media's free coverage of how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the legal community.

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