Alumni Short

Bar Exam FAQ

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RESOURCES
 

1. Insurance: My Cornell health insurance expired July 31. What can I do for health insurance until I start my job?

The Law School and the university’s student health benefits office advocated for an extension on the student health insurance program, but the insurance company could not extend coverage for this program year. Recent graduates are encouraged to review the ABA’s Virtual Resources for Recent Graduates Summer, 2020, which includes information on health insurance, among other wellness resources.

2. Housing: How can I find housing in Ithaca this time of year?

CLSA has started a Google doc for students to sublet to recent graduates hoping to stay in Ithaca to study for and take the bar exam. Be sure to log into your Cornell email in Gmail to access the spreadsheet here.

3. Laptops: Can the school provide laptops to students with need on the day of the exam?

We are looking into what options may be available on the days of the exam. Keep in mind that laptops will likely need to be preregistered with bar exam administrators and have any proctoring software downloaded in advance. With that in mind, getting laptops from the Law School may not be timely or feasible. Recent graduates experiencing tech issues or other hardships are encouraged to contact law.dos@cornell.edu to explore emergency funding options for laptops.

TECHNICAL ASPECTS OF THE BAR EXAM
 

1. What is being done about the technical aspects of the online bar exam, like the code of conduct, exam software security, proctors, use of scratch paper on the exam, and limitations on the location to take the exam?

At this time, the New York Board of Law Examiners (BOLE) has not released any information regarding exam day conduct rules, software security, proctors, use of scratch paper, or whether you can take the online exam outside the state of New York. We don’t know when BOLE will make those decisions or when the rules will be announced. California, and some other jurisdictions, have released their rules. While these decisions are up to each jurisdiction on how to administer and grade the test, Cornell shares graduates’ concerns and is advocating for graduates’ best interest.

RECIPROCITY
 

The New York State Board of Law Examiners is making arrangements to allow candidates to transfer scores earned on the remote bar admission examination to be administered on October 5-6, 2020. At present, the Board has entered into reciprocity agreements with the following jurisdictions:  Connecticut, District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee and Vermont.  The board will continue its efforts to secure reciprocity with other UBE jurisdictions administering the remote exam, and will provide updates as additional information becomes available.

The following candidates will be eligible to transfer a score earned on the remote exam in a reciprocal jurisdiction: 

  1. Any candidate who graduated from an ABA-approved law school with a J.D. degree and who has not previously sat for a bar exam in any U.S. jurisdiction;
  2. Any foreign educated candidate who graduated from an ABA-approved law school with an LL.M. degree and who has not previously sat for a bar exam in any U.S. jurisdiction;
  3. Any candidate who graduated in 2018 with a J.D. degree from an ABA-approved law school and who sat for one prior administration of the UBE but who has not sat for more than one prior bar exam in any U.S. jurisdiction; and
  4. Any candidate who graduated in 2019 or later with a J.D. degree from an ABA approved law school and who previously took the UBE and failed no more than two times.

Transferred scores will not be accepted from candidates who do not meet one of the aforementioned criteria.

GENERAL
 

1. Because of recent problems with online exams, is Cornell lobbying the New York Court of Appeals for more permanent licensure should an October exam not be feasible?

We share your concerns and have been advocating for such an option since the beginning of the pandemic and will continue to do so. Please see Dean Peñalver’s most recent comments on online exams in a recent Bloomberg Law article.

LOBBYING EFFORTS
 

1. What can current grads do to lobby NYSBA/the Court of Appeals/the state legislature?

Our understanding is that the legislature will reconvene around Labor Day. We agree that the legislative solution is far from optimal due to the slowness of the process. While we leave the ultimate determination to you, we do not think recent graduates lobbying the legislature is generally a good use of your time, which would be better spent preparing for the October exam. We will continue to pursue all available options, however, and update you on the developments we observe.

EMPLOYER CONTACTS
 

1. Have you been in contact with any firms regarding the changes? What have firms said?

The New York City Bar — which is very close to the big law firms — has come out in favor of a diploma privilege. We have spoken with individual alumni at some large firms, who have also been supportive. But support for the diploma privilege is not universal. Please do continue to share with us any feedback you’re receiving from your employers, both law firms and public interest organizations, in this regard.