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Louisiana Supreme Court says online bar exams will be open-book

The Louisiana Supreme Court on Tuesday announced the state bar exam will be online and open book due to the coronavirus pandemic.

During the exam, set to be held remotely on Aug. 24 and Oct. 10, applicants will be allowed to consult outside materials but not other people, the court said in a statement Tuesday.

"The Louisiana Supreme Court Committee on Bar Admissions has worked diligently throughout this pandemic to find workable solutions which will allow applicants the ability to safely sit for the Bar Exam while being mindful of issues which may present themselves that could affect the applicants' ability to test," state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson said.

"The Committee on Bar Admissions advised that it is not feasible to administer the remote bar examinations utilizing the current software vendor, therefore today's Order provides Bar Exam applicants with the opportunity to sit for the Bar Exam without further delay due to conditions presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and possible unexpected technical issues which may have interrupted their remote testing," she added.

The announcement follows a July 22 order allowing for the exam to be held remotely and administrated on two separate days. Applicants will still be required to meet the state bar's normal character and fitness requirements.

State bar exams have adopted various strategies to accommodate the pandemic. In New York, the state Board of Law Examiners canceled it outright.

"In light of accelerating public health concerns and continuing governmental restrictions, the Board of Law Examiners has concluded that an in-person bar exam cannot be safely administered on September 9-10, 2020," bar officials wrote in July. "Participants' health and safety must remain our top priority and, because conditions have not sufficiently improved, the September exam has been canceled."

Several other states, including Massachusetts, Michigan, Indiana, Maryland and Nevada, will offer the exam online like Louisiana. Oregon, Utah and Washington, meanwhile, will grant some law school graduates "diploma privileges" that allow them to practice without having passed the exam.