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Florida Bar Exam Postponed, Examinees Notified At Eleventh Hour

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The Florida bar exam was set to be administered online, rather than in-person, in Wednesday. But Sunday night, the Florida Board of Bar Examiners announced it will be postponed until a date not yet determined in October.

The Florida bar exam was scheduled to be taken remotely this week by prospective lawyers around the state, but it’s been postponed last-minute. Now, many of the thousands who were set to take the exam are sounding off.

The Florida Board of Bar Examiners says it will reschedule the exam, using the same content, for a date to-be-determined in October.

But many who were set to take the exam are left frustrated, given little notice – and their futures put on hold. Robert Walters, a recent graduate of Florida State University, is among them.

“You’re going to unlearn a lot of the things that you just memorized, for the test that you thought was going to be on Wednesday,” Walters said Monday, not 24 hours after learning of the postponement. “At this point, I am probably the most prepared that I would be to take this exam.”

Walters and about 3,000 others were gearing up to take the exam on Wednesday, but he came to find out it was postponed at the eleventh hour.

“It wasn’t until Sunday night at around 10:56 pm before bar examinees got an email from the Florida Board of Bar examiners, informing them that the test they were supposed to take in two days was cancelled,” Walters recalled.

In a statement, The Board of Bar Examiners says administering a “secure and reliable” online exam was not feasible.

Walters was set to take part in a stress test of the software that would’ve been used to administer the test Monday, which was also cancelled. He detailed a continuous series of proposed changes to the exam brought on by COVID-19 disruption – the postponement being the latest installment.

“From changing the bar exam to not just in Tampa, that was one change – (then) it was in Orlando and Tampa,” Walters explained. “And then the third change came when they decided to have an online exam, originally on August 18, until the bar examiners decided that you couldn’t have an exam on the day of the primary – then they changed it to August 19.”

Walters expressed disappointment at communication coming from the Board of Bar Examiners throughout those changes. He says he feels fortunate to be financially stable in the meantime, but worries for others who might not be in that position:

“A lot of examinees around the state are not in that position. They’re in a position where they thought they were going to be starting work on Monday, and that their health insurance from their employer would start on Monday. But this last minute decision from the Board of Bar Examiners, has thrown that all out.”

The Board says it is working on developing a supervised practice program in partnership with the Florida Bar. The program will allow for people who haven’t taken the exam, if deemed eligible by the board, to practice in some capacity under supervision of a practicing attorney.

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.