Georgetown Law Joins Law Schools Asking Court to Reconsider NY Bar Decision

May 2, 2020

Hon. Janet DiFiore Chief Judge
The New York Court of Appeals
20 Eagle Street Albany, New York 12207

Dear Chief Judge DiFiore:

We are deans of non-New York based law schools who have among the most substantial numbers of students who sit for the bar in your state each year. Collectively, the undersigned schools had over two thousand JD and LLM graduates take the New York bar exam in 2019. We write in response to your Court’s April 30 Notice stating that, in light of the conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic, you will offer limited seating for New York’s September 9-10 administration of the Uniform Bar Exam and will give priority to JD and LLM graduates of the 15 New York-based law schools.

We recognize that the Court’s decision is framed against the need to protect public health in the midst of a pandemic that has brought devastating loss of life, with New York hit especially hard. And we are mindful of the very difficult decisions and trade-offs that all institutions, including your Court, must make at this time.

Still, as you can imagine, the news of your approach has fallen hard on the many students who had planned to sit for the bar in New York this summer or fall, a number of whom have already physically returned or relocated to New York during this pandemic. And we worry that the resulting delay in the exam’s administration and admission to practice will fall hardest on the most economically vulnerable of our graduates and on those whose continued presence in the United States will be compromised by the delay.

We stand ready to help find solutions that could expand testing capacity in feasible ways. We write collectively to offer our support to put in place some combination of the following measures to mitigate the effect of your April 30 decision on graduates from out-of-state schools:

• Offering a second date for New York’s administration of the UBE in the September 30-October 1 sitting that will be offered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners;
• Increasing seating for New York’s September 9-10 administration of the UBE by adding new locations within New York State;
• Creating seats for New York’s administration of the UBE outside of New York State, including, potentially, using some of our schools as possible venues;
• Working to develop an on-line bar exam, either in conjunction with the NCBE or as a freestanding New York exam.

We stand ready to work as a group to help identify additional proctors and alternative locations, both inside and outside New York State, and to facilitate any of these solutions.

We are grateful to you for considering these proposals, and we recognize the tremendous work you are doing to navigate an unprecedented public health crisis which has inflicted great loss on the world and on the people of New York State. We would welcome discussion with members of your Court or the New York State Board of Law Examiners about how we can help with any of these proposals.

With respect,

Camille Nelson
Dean and Professor of Law
American University Washington College of Law

Vincent D. Rougeau
Dean, Boston College Law School

Angela Onwuachi-Willig
Dean and Professor of Law
Boston University School of Law

Erwin Chemerinsky
Dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law
University of California, Berkeley School of Law

Jennifer L. Mnookin
Dean and Ralph and Shirley Shapiro Professor of Law
University of California, Los Angeles School of Law

Thomas J. Miles
Dean and Clifton R. Musser Professor of Law & Economics
The University of Chicago Law School

Kerry Abrams
James B. Duke and Benjamin N. Duke Dean of the School of Law and Professor of Law
Duke University School of Law

Mary Anne Bobinski
Dean and Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Law
Emory University School of Law

Christopher Alan Bracey
Interim Dean Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Professor of Law
George Washington University

William Michael Treanor
Executive Vice President, Law Center Dean, and Paul Regis Dean Professor
Georgetown University

Danielle Holley-Walker
Dean and Professor of Law
Howard University School of Law

John F. Manning
Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Law
Harvard Law School

Mark D. West
Dean and Nippon Life Professor of Law
University of Michigan Law School

James Hackney
Dean and Professor of Law
Northeastern University School of Law

Kimberly A. Yuracko
Dean and Judd and Mary Morris Leighton Professor of Law
Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Theodore W. Ruger
Dean and Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law
University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

Kimberly M. Mutcherson
Co-Dean & Professor of Law
Rutgers Law School

Jenny S. Martinez
Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean
Stanford Law School

Risa Goluboff
Dean and Arnold H. Leon Professor of Law
University of Virginia School of Law

Nancy Staudt
Dean and Caroline Cayne Distinguished Professor of Law
Washington University School of Law

Heather K. Gerken
Dean and Sol & Lillian Goldman Professor of Law
Yale Law School