July 2020 Bar Exam to be Remote Online Essay Test

Updated May 19, 2020

The Michigan Supreme Court announced that the Board of Law Examiners has shelved the traditional two-day format for the July 2020 bar examination in favor of a single-day, essay-only, remote option. Uncertainty regarding the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and the ability to accommodate in-person gatherings necessitated the change.

Originally scheduled for July 28-29, the modified test will be held on Tuesday, July 28. The 15-question essay exam will cover both state and federal law topics similar to those that would be addressed in the 200-question Multistate Bar Exam, which cannot be administered online this year.

“The board conducted extensive research and consultations to make this decision, including outreach to Michigan public health officials and law school deans, while monitoring developments in the pandemic and approaches of other states,” Justice Brian K. Zahra, the Court’s liaison to the Board of Law Examiners, said in a press release. “Law school graduates can sit for the exam without risking public health.”

Since this year’s summer applicants will be on the same professional track as previous July examinees, the Board of Law Examiners did not recommend any limited licensure because of the change.

“I am confident the Michigan essay examination will adequately test the applicants’ legal knowledge and skill,” Justice Zahra said. “The public can be confident that those who pass this exam will have requisite knowledge of state law to become a member of the Michigan bar.”

The BLE is working with Michigan’s five law schools and the University of Toledo to make sure that individuals with disabilities who cannot take the exam online are able to take the test in person with appropriate safety measures.

The full extent of Michigan Supreme Court Order 2020-15 addressing the July 2020 bar exam modifications can be found here.