Class of 2020 and the New York Bar Exam


Dear Fordham Law Recent Graduates,

As you may have heard, the New York Court of Appeals announced this afternoon that the September bar examination will not go forward in light of the continued threat of the coronavirus. Here is the announcement: I am so sorry that you all have worked so hard to prepare for an exam that will not be given and that your pathway into the profession has a new wrinkle. The only consolation is that it is indeed better to cancel the exam than have it take place in conditions that are unsafe to you and your families.

The Court announced the creation of a new working group to recommend whether the state should recognize the NCBE’s new October online exam or adopt a diploma privilege. It asked the working group to focus first on the October bar possibility and to issue a recommendation by early August. A number of states have gone this route, including Maryland, DC, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. It additionally asked the working group to consider a diploma privilege, which waives the exam. Several states have done this: Utah, Oregon, and Washington. The Court also reiterated that under its prior orders, graduates of the class of 2020 can practice law in New York by applying for a temporary practice authorization until they are able to take an in-person bar exam. The temporary authorization goes into effect on July 22. It does, however, require that graduates be supervised by an employer. See

I have been following the issue closely and working with the deans of New York’s 15 law schools to urge a path to admission that recognizes the hardship and that enables you to gain admission through a predictable and safe process. Both the October bar and the diploma privilege are preferable to merely relying on the temporary authorization. We will continue to work together to advocate for a clear and fair pathway for you to be admitted to practice.

Finally, I recognize our final days of law school and your entry into the profession have not been what anyone could have predicted. These are unique times. Nonetheless, you will make it through with your strength and resilience, and I look forward to seeing you all admitted as members of the bar.


Matthew Diller
Dean and Paul Fuller Professor of Law


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