Mass., NJ, Others Strike Bar Exam Reciprocity Deal

By Brian Dowling
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Law360 (July 27, 2020, 3:26 PM EDT) -- The District of Columbia and seven states, including Massachusetts and New Jersey, will accept scores from each other's remotely administered bar exams after striking a reciprocity deal ahead of their tests scheduled for Oct. 5 and Oct. 6.

The Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners announced Monday that the Bay State, along with New Jersey, Connecticut, Kentucky, Maryland, Tennessee, Vermont and Washington, D.C., will accept scores from the other jurisdictions' exams and grant admission to the bar if applicants attain certain scores.

The officials added they are working with additional jurisdictions and hope to expand the reciprocity, which comes as many states are canceling in-person exams due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"With this, examinees will have the opportunity to seek bar admission in any of the jurisdictions agreeing to reciprocity if the score they achieve on this exam meets the score requirement for that jurisdiction," the testing officials said in a statement.

In April, Massachusetts became the first state to announce an online offering for the bar exam as a backup plan in case the usual massive in-person test wasn't safe due to COVID-19.

That Plan B became the only practical option when the state canceled the fall sitting for the Uniform Bar Examination.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, several states have opted to forgo the exam altogether and grant bar admission to graduates based on their diploma and other qualifications. According to the National Conference of Bar Examiners, Washington, Oregon, Utah and Louisiana will allow so-called diploma privilege

Michigan, Indiana, Louisiana and Florida have shortened the exam to a single day. Louisiana's exam offering is for graduates who do not qualify for the state's diploma privilege. 

Two dozen states and jurisdictions now have plans to administer the exam remotely, according to the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

Last week, Delaware canceled its bar exam, which was scheduled for Sept. 9 through Sept. 11 at a fairground. The state said it is working on a way for graduates to obtain temporary practice status until the next sitting of the exam.  

New York said last week it would be offering an online administered bar exam for Oct. 5 and Oct. 6., after having canceled its September sitting for the test.

--Additional reporting by Rose Krebs, Hailey Konnath and Rachel Stone. Editing by Alyssa Miller.

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