Louisiana law students suffer as bar exam is canceled due to COVID-19

Updated: Jul. 17, 2020 at 7:04 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Supreme Court decided to cancel the Louisiana bar exam just 12 days before law students are supposed to take it due to COVID-19.

“When I heard the bar exam was canceled, honestly it was a feeling of disbelief and shock. I had been studying for months and working while I was doing it. So, to hear that it was canceled, really, I didn’t know how to comprehend that information,” says Josef Ventulan who recently graduated from Southern University Law Center.

This feeling is similar for all law school students across the state. The Supreme Court’s committee made the decision on bar admissions due to the increase in COVID-19 cases. However, this pause on the students’ lives is creating obstacles for their future practicing law.

Another Southern University graduate, Brian Covington, says, “The thing that hurts the most is the uncertainty of not knowing when we will be able to take the bar exam because a lot of our lives depend on us having our license.”

For some students not being able to start their careers is creating hardships during this already difficult time. Covington explains that some of his classmates already have families to think about.

For example, recent LSU law student graduate Joe Heaton has a wife and a 1-year-old. “As far as the career goes, I mean the whole pandemic has been full of uncertainty not just for me, but for everybody’s job and livelihoods whether you are able to make a living for yourself,” Heaton says.

The deans from all the Louisiana law schools recently sent a letter to the Supreme Court to adopt “the emergency admission” plan allowing the class of 2020 who were signed up to take the bar exam to at least be admitted to the state bar with some temporary privileges in place.

“Given the circumstances nothing during the pandemic is going to be a perfect solution, but I think this is the best for all solutions. It takes into account with the fact that we don’t know when we will be able to take one in person and the technical difficulties are just too dangerous to have to deal with an online version,” Heaton says.

As of now there is not a replacement date for the bar exam until then it will be a waiting game for law students.

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