The Supreme Court of Georgia announced that because of the coronavirus, it has rescheduled the July 28-29 bar exam for Sept. 9-10. Out of concern for the difficulties this necessary delay creates for recent law school graduates, the court also adopted a temporary rule allowing recent graduates to become provisionally admitted to practice law before taking the bar exam.
“As we carefully considered all of our options, it became clear that the bar exam should not go forward in July,” Chief Justice Harold Melton said. Up to 1,500 people take the July bar exam each year, and almost all sit close together in the same convention hall. The court took this step after consulting with the Georgia Department of Public Health.
“At the same time, it is vitally important to the Court that the law students and graduates affected by this delay be afforded the opportunity to move forward in their careers,” Melton said.
The new rule allows anyone who has graduated in the previous 18 months from an American Bar Association-accredited law school to apply to the Office of Bar Admissions for a certificate of provisional admission. The application process requires a recent graduate to:
- Obtain a certificate of character and fitness from the Board to Determine Fitness of Bar Applicants, an ordinary prerequisite for being eligible to take the bar exam;
- Be certified as competent to practice law by the graduate’s dean or law professor;
- Have not failed a bar exam previously.
Before beginning the practice of law, any provisionally admitted graduate must register with the State Bar of Georgia and identify a Georgia lawyer who will supervise the graduate. The new rule also provides a process by which lawyers admitted to the bar of another state may obtain a provisional admission.
Georgia’s five law school deans jointly agree with the ruling. “This pandemic presents profound challenges for our State and our profession. … We are united in our support of the Court’s order and, in executing it, resolve to help our graduates with their entry into the profession and their efforts to serve the many legal needs of Georgia’s citizens.”