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Law Deans Urge California Supreme Court to Administer an Open-Book Bar Exam Without Remote Proctoring
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Law deans from 15 ABA-accredited law schools in California have asked the State Supreme Court to make changes to its upcoming online bar exam scheduled for October 5-6, citing issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the wildfires and the civil right movement.

In a Sept. 14 letter, the deans urge the California Supreme Court to follow the example of Indiana and Nevada and administer the bar exam without remote proctoring and without limits on what materials the student may consult during the exam. 

“Administering the exam without remote proctoring and in an open-book manner would decrease the stress for many taking the bar. In addition, there is a nontrivial risk of significant technical issues or snafus in the planned administration that would be substantially alleviated by this alternative approach,” the deans wrote.


The letter was signed by 15 law school deans, including Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the University of California at Berkeley School of Law, and Paul Caron, the dean of the Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law.

The deans ask for an open-book exam to make it easy on the applicants who have been through a lot this year.

‘The bar exam always is a source of stress for those taking it, but the situation this year is dramatically different. We still are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic which has affected many of our graduates and their families. Many are dislocated by the fires and adversely affected by the smoke. We are in the midst of a national reckoning with racism and antiBlackness’ reads the letter.

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United for Diploma Privilege, an organization founded by recent law school graduates, filed a petition last week, urging the State Supreme Court to consider alternatives to an online proctored test, citing concerns related to untested technology which intrudes on test-takers’ privacy and will disproportionately impact applicants from marginalized communities.

“We thank the California ABA law deans for echoing our call to action and hope the California Supreme Court takes seriously the countless reports of privacy breaches and documented failures in delivering an online exam,” Pilar Margarita Hernández Escontrías, one of the coalition’s founders told ABA Journal.



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