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With coronavirus cases reaching new levels across Texas, I have joined the deans of the state’s nine other law schools in calling for reasonable alternative options for bar licensure given it is likely to be unsafe to administer the bar exam in July and September under current conditions. In a letter to the Supreme Court of Texas and Board of Law Examiners, my decanal colleagues and I expressed our appreciation for the extraordinary measures already taken to assure the exam can be taken safely and successfully, but given the current state of the crisis, those measures do not sufficiently protect our recent graduates. They are counting on pursuing their legal careers, but also have obligations to pay off student debt averaging $96,382 at some of the Texas law schools. A delay of months, or even a year, in the administration of the exam would cause personal and professional hardship to them.

We offered three options for the Texas Supreme Court and the Board of Law Examiners to consider:

  • Convert the July and September exams to optional or mandatory remote administration. Remote testing is unlikely to be cancelled due to the virus, would not propagate the spread of the virus as would an in-person exam, and would likely allow the bar exam to take place at the currently appointed dates and times.
  • Adopt an apprenticeship-type program that would permit licensure after completion of a certain number of hours under supervised practice.
  • a one-time diploma privilege for graduates of the ten Texas law schools, which would grant licensure based on their successful completion of the degree requirements of graduation at their law school.

We recognize that none of these options is perfect, but stress the need for a safe and reasonable alternative plan to keep our recent graduates safe and also to provide them with certainty in these stressful and uncertain times.

The BLE is scheduled to meet in emergency session Wednesday to discuss the status of the July and September exams. Click here to read the full letter from Texas law school deans.

Sincerely,

Leonard M. Baynes
Dean & Professor of Law
University of Houston Law Center

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Law Center faculty David Fagundes, the Baker Botts Professor of Law and Assistant Dean for Faculty Development, and Professor Renee Knake, the Joanne and Larry Doherty Chair in Legal Ethics and director of Law Center Outcomes and Assessments, published an op-ed titled, "Texas Should Cancel Its 2020 Bar Exam" on June 30.

"A Letter to the Texas Supreme Court and the Board of Law Examiners from the University of Houston Law Center Class of 2020" was sent on June 30.

In a letter to the Texas Supreme Court and Board of Law Examiners dated July 1, the Houston Young Lawyers Association also expressed strong support for the deans’ call for bar exam options.


Click here for past Dean's Notes

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