Brian White | May 20, 2020 | News
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the lives of all Americans. We have had to learn a new “normal” for many things in our daily lives. Children have transitioned to e-learning while many adults have transitioned their kitchen tables into remote offices.
The country is reopening slowly, but it could be several more months before everything is reopened. For law school graduates in Texas, the possibility that they may not be able to take the bar exam in July means they could face financial hardships and other complications.
Concerns About Holding the July Bar Examination
Law students are understandably concerned that the July bar exam might be postponed because of the coronavirus. A postponement means that they need to continue to prepare for the bar examination to remain ready to take the exam at a later date. A postponement also means a delay in beginning their careers.
Limits on large gatherings and social distancing requirements make it challenging to place two thousand or more individuals into one place to conduct the examination. Education policy experts and law professors have suggested several options for moving forward with the July bar examination. Options for addressing the July bar examination suggested in the policy paper include:
- Postpone the July bar examination;
- Administer the bar examination online;
- Limit groups taking the test to no more than ten individuals;
- Issue 2020 J.D. graduates from law schools accredited by the American Bar Association an emergency diploma privilege;
- Institute an emergency diploma privilege-plus program; or,
- Institute a supervised practice program for 2020 J.D. graduates so they can practice law under the supervision of a licensed attorney.
Texas Supreme Court Addresses July Bar Examination
The Texas Supreme Court issued its Thirteenth Emergency Order Regarding The COVID-19 State Of Disaster on April 29, 2020, addressing the July bar examination in Texas.
The order states that the Court consulted with the deans of Texas law schools and the Board of Law Examiners in deciding how to proceed with the July bar examination. The Court determined that the Board of Law Examiners should administer the examination as scheduled. The bar exam is scheduled for July 28 – 30, 2020.
The Court acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic is unpredictable. No one can be sure how long social distancing and other measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus will be necessary to protect public health. Therefore, the Court stated that the Texas bar examination would also be offered again on September 9 – 11, 2020.
If public health authorities determine that all registered applicants for the July examination cannot be tested safely, applicants will be prioritized based on their registration date. When the July testing is full, applicants will be automatically registered for the September date.
The Court also updated the rules for law school graduates and unlicensed law students to practice law under the supervision of a licensed attorney. The new rules are effective as of May 18, 2020, but could change based on the changing conditions and public comment.
Law Firms Adjusting to Changes Caused by COVID-19
Many law firms in Texas and throughout the United States have had to change the way they operate because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Law firms have instituted measures to protect their staff members and clients. From telephone conferences with clients to virtual consultations with potential clients, law firms have adapted to the changes caused by the coronavirus.
If you are injured in a car accident or other accident, you can still receive legal advice and help from a personal injury attorney. Steps to take after an accidental injury include:
- Call 911 to request emergency assistance.
- Stay at the scene of the accident and wait for police officers.
- Check on other drivers and accident victims, but follow social distancing guidelines.
- Take photographs of the crash scene, if it is safe to do so.
- See a medical provider as soon as possible. If you are unsure what to do because of COVID-19, contact your medical provider immediately.
- Document your injuries and damages for an accident claim. Keep copies of all documents you receive related to the accident and your injuries. Take photographs of your injuries as you heal.
- Do not provide a statement to an insurance company without consulting with an attorney.
- Do not sign any documents or accept a settlement offer without talking to an attorney.
- As soon as possible, contact a personal injury lawyer. Many law firms are offering telephone consultations so that you do not need to leave home to talk to an attorney.
If you have questions about a personal injury claim, ask a lawyer. An attorney can give you advice about the steps you need to take and the things you need to avoid to protect your right to a fair and just settlement.