Delaware Cancels 2020 Bar Exam Due To Virus Concerns

By Rose Krebs
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Law360 (July 24, 2020, 6:10 PM EDT) -- Delaware's Chief Justice Collins J. Seitz Jr. announced Friday that the 2020 bar exam, scheduled for Sept. 9-11 at the state fairgrounds, has been canceled due to ongoing coronavirus concerns, adding that bar candidates will be able to obtain temporary limited practice status.

The Supreme Court and the Board of Bar Examiners said in a statement that ongoing concern about the pandemic and quarantine requirements in other states led to cancellation of the in-person exam.

"In lieu of the 2020 Bar Exam, the board is working with the Supreme Court to implement a temporary limited practice rule that will allow many of this year's bar candidates to perform legal work in Delaware, under the supervision of a Delaware lawyer, until the next administration of the bar exam," an announcement said.

Earlier this month, officials announced that this year's exam, which had already been postponed due to the public health crisis, would be moved from its usual location at the Widener University Delaware Law School in New Castle County to the fairgrounds in Harrington, Kent County. The move was prompted by heightened security measures required amid the pandemic, the board said in a prior statement.

However, Friday's statement noted that nearly 60% of those who applied to take this year's exam are from out of state, including locations currently considered COVID-19 hot spots or subject to quarantine requirements.

"The rapidly changing nature of the pandemic makes this year's exam particularly difficult to administer," the statement said. "While cancellation of the in-person exam is disappointing, the interim limited practice privilege will allow many 2020 bar candidates to begin their legal careers in Delaware."

Details on the limited practice status will be provided to applicants and posted online once they are available, the statement said.

"The pandemic continues to evolve, and it is unclear how well the virus will be contained by September," Chief Justice Seitz said. "Because of this uncertainty, the court and the board believe that canceling the in-person exam is the only way to protect the health and safety of all the applicants, proctors and staff."

--Editing by Alanna Weissman.

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