Cal Bar FAQ update in text and tone
The Cal Bar’s latest FAQ (published January 10) seems to be a bit of a sea-change in tone. Yes, each iteration of the FAQ has indicated, in #1, in person, paper paper paper, party like it’s 2017. BUT the escalation of the FAQ for the COVID testing section (#5) about full vaccination, negative PCR test, antigen test deadlines, no sufficient proof of vaccination, no entry into the exam, and of course all of the reports of schools going remote or extending remote, Grammys being cancelled, etc. all seemed towards an inevitable transfer to a remote exam.
But this week’s FAQ (1/10) has more of a feel that the exam’s going in person. Their tone now seems to be: we’re doing this in-person (see #1, in person, paper paper paper), but if you’re feeling squeamish about doing this in-person thing, you can always ring the bell and opt out, and if you get COVID and can’t show up, you can get a 95% refund. That sounds a LOT like the Super Bowl in LA rationale: we’re just going to push forward and it’s going to happen, no matter what’s going on around us.
But as with all lawyers, we have ONE little disclaimer: if a public health authority “relevant to the testing center locations issues different mandates for in-person gatherings” then we’ll get back to you.
What I interpret that to mean is that if LA County says you can’t hold an in-person bar exam at the LA County sites, the exam will be administered remotely for everyone in the state. I believe that the Bar is tone deaf about its question 13, a new question altered from #7 a week ago (“What if there is a winter COVID-19 surge? What if there is a new variant?)
Guess what, folks? It’s not a new variant. It’s Omicron, and it’s been here for months! Call it winter, call it Omicron. It ain’t new, and it’s GOTTEN A LOT WORSE. LA County case counts are doubling every two days. Criminal trials have been suspended two weeks. Eight UC’s have gone remote and five have doubled (for now) it’s remote calendar. And just yesterday, Nevada became the first state to announce a remote, non-MBE exam. So it’s not a new surge, and we don’t need a new variant to go remote, because the current one continues to get worse.
Questions #11-14 are listed below.
11. In light of the recent surge in COVID cases, I don’t want to travel to take this test in person. Can I withdraw from the exam at this point due to my concerns about COVID?
- Yes. The Office of Admissions is seeking to provide in-person testing conditions that are safe for all test takers, proctors, and staff. But we understand that some people might nonetheless have concerns about the in person environment. If you would like to opt out of this exam due to concerns you might have with an in-person exam, you may do so. You will be given a full refund if you withdraw by January 18, 2022, by 11:59 p.m. PST.
- To make a refund request, please submit a General Request in your Applicant Portal with the subject “Withdrawal for COVID concerns,” and request your refund in the body of the request. If you ask to withdraw from the exam for this reason after January 18, 2022, you will not receive any refund.
- 12. I withdrew before you put this information out about allowing an additional reason to withdraw with a full refund. How can I get more of my application money back?
- All those who withdrew before this information was published will be contacted, and their additional fees will be refunded.
- 13. What if there is a new variant or another serious surge?
- If public health conditions change and a public health authority relevant to the testing center locations issues different mandates for in-person gatherings, we will update all applicants for the February 2022 bar exam accordingly.
- 14. What happens if I test positive for COVID-19 and cannot come to the exam?
- If you have COVID-19, or any illness, that prevents you from attending the February bar exam, you may apply for the existing 95 percent medical refund of fees. Documentation must accompany any request for medical refund.
Check the FAQ daily for updates. For now they seem to be issuing updates on Mondays (1/3, 1/10), but as with everything else, that can change quickly as well.
My advice: prepare as if the exam is in-person, AND prepare as if the exam is remote. Have your logistics ready to go about where to take the exam, etc., either way. Practice essays with paper fact patterns and digital fact patterns. Practice PTs with paper Library and File, and with digital Library and File.
Take care and stay safe and healthy!