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Local law students concerned about taking bar exam in person during coronavirus pandemic

Posted June 23, 2020 11:37 p.m. EDT
Updated June 24, 2020 8:48 a.m. EDT

— As North Carolina grapples with increasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, local law school graduates are concerned about taking the in-person bar exam next month.

More than 750 people are signed up to take the bar exam scheduled for July 28-29. The state Bar of Law Examiners plans to keep test takers spaced out at three different locations. With an in-person test as the only options, some law school graduates fear for their safety.

Completing law school is no easy task.

"It's grueling, a good way to put it," said Aaron Ellis, a Campbell University School of Law graduate.

Ellis graduated in May. In order to practice law, he and other law school graduates must pass the bar exam. He and graduates like Britni Prybol are concerned about the in-person exam in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We are worried about safety, we're worried we're going to go through all this studying and then go to the exam and feel unsafe," Prybol said.

Ellis worries about getting exposed to coronavirus while testing and then possibly infecting family members.

"My son, he's 10 months old, and he has a kidney condition," Ellis said.

The NC Board of Law Examiners requires applicants to complete a COVID-19 screening certification. Exam takers are instructed to wear face coverings and bring hand sanitizer and must maintain social distancing throughout the exam.

Kimberly Herrick with the State Board of Law Examiners said there are a lot of security factors to consider with an online option.

"We are aware of that option, but it's really not practical for North Carolina," Herrick said.

Taking the bar exam safely is critical for people like Ellis to get to work.

"A lot of us have job offers that are going to require licensure and admittance to the bar before you can start," Ellis said.

Herrick said the goal is to have more rooms available and to have people spaced out and following CDC guidelines. For those who feel unsafe taking the exam in person, admins say they’ll waive all fees and allow people to take the bar exam February of next year.

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