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Tennessee Supreme Court cancels July Bar Exam due to COVID-19, applicants to take exam in fall

Officials with the Tennessee Supreme Court said they are committed to administering the exam in 2020, while minimizing the risks associated with COVID-19.

TENNESSEE, USA — Students who were planning on taking the bar exam and become lawyers will need to wait a little longer after the Tennessee Supreme Court decided to cancel the July exam Thursday.

Originally, the exam was scheduled to be administered on July 28 and July 29, according to officials. The court said that applicants should now expect to take the exam Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, as long they were not determined to be ineligible and haven't transferred their application to the February 2021 exam.

Safety measures were put in place for the July exam, but officials decided that the risks associated with holding it weren't worth the benefits. They also said they were determined to administer the test this year, as long as there aren't significant changes in the COVID-19 pandemic.

On July 1, Tennessee reported its highest single-day increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. Some of the largest increases in the state have been between people between 22 - 35 years old, the age range of most test-takers, according to officials.

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All three locations for the July 2020 exam — Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville — posted their highest single-day increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases too, officials said.

Although the exam may have been canceled, students may still have opportunities to gather experience while studying for the exam.

“Applicants to the Tennessee bar are afforded broad permissions to practice pending admission and can begin working immediately upon graduation, drafting documents, meeting with clients, and appearing in court," Bill Harbison said in a release, president of the Board of Law Examiners. "Applicants can continue to practice even if subsequent examinations are affected by the national healthcare crisis."

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