The Maine Board of Bar Examiners is going forward with an in-person bar exam this fall even though the American Bar Association recently recommended that states replace in-person exams with remote ones.
Recent law school graduates and lawyers from many other states wishing to practice in Maine must pass the bar exam to obtain a license.
Usually the bar exam is held in February and July at a hotel in the Portland area. This year, due to social distancing requirements, the exam will be held at two locations, the University of Maine School of Law and the DoubleTree hotel in South Portland.
The in-person exam is slated to go forward, despite the fact that the American Bar Association adopted a resolution at its annual convention, held virtually on Aug. 4, that urged states to cancel in-person bar exams and instead develop alternative plans to license candidates, including offering the test remotely using questions prepared by the National Conference of Bar Examiners.
Last month in Colorado, a recent law school graduate who took that state’s bar exam learned that she had tested positive for COVID-19 after she completed the test, which law school graduates had pushed the state to let them temporarily skip. Others who shared a room with the infected test taker were told to self-isolate and get tested, the Colorado Sun reported.
Maine and Rhode Island are the only New England states holding in-person bar exams this fall, according to the National Conference of Bar Examiners.
On Monday, a recent graduate of the University of Maine School of Law who is scheduled to take the two-day exam Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 in Portland wrote to reporters as well as members of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court and Maine Board of Bar Examiners, which the court oversees, with concerns about the in-person fall test.
Robert Long, the spokesperson for the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said the staff for the bar examiners contacted the agency Monday about how to conduct the test in compliance with best practices for preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
Julia Finn, a spokesperson for the judiciary, said the court system is reviewing the email and would issue a statement in the near future.