Law grads fight to begin practicing ahead of delayed bar exam

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The bar exam had been in limbo for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A date has been set for graduates to take the test remotely in early October, but there’s a push to begin practicing law earlier.

“I have had to borrow money in order to cover my cost of living and my rent. This is quite common among other graduates. And in the meantime, as the bar is being pushed back, I’m having to apply for non-legal jobs,” Organizer for United for Diploma Privilege Claire Schapira.

Diploma privilege allows graduates to enter the field before taking the exam under the supervision of a licensed attorneys. This is no longer considered as a temporary option by the New York State Court of Appeals.

In a statement, the courts cited its rejection of the diploma privilege saying, “The bar exam provides critical assurance to the public that admitted attorneys meet minimum competency requirements.”

Several law schools, including Albany Law, have come out in support of letting their graduates practice. Graduates say mounting debt and student loans have piled up as grads wait to take and pass the exam to start their first job.

“This is not like it’s the SAT we’re preparing for. You know, this is something extremely contingent on employment opportunity,” said Albany Law School Graduate Kieran Murphy. “For a lot of students, it’s affected them in a severe enough way that I would agree, dire straights, for most students is definitely being experienced.” Murphy said.

The exam will be held remotely on October 5 and 6. When the results of the bar will be released has not been issued.

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