Illinois bar exam delayed, to be held remotely in October

Concerns over the coronavirus pandemic have delayed the Illinois bar exam until remote sessions in early October, the state Supreme Court announced.

The exam will be held online Oct. 5 -6, the court said Thursday. It was first delayed in July and then scheduled for Sept. 9-10 before the latest move, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The court reached its decision after discussions with the Illinois Board of Admissions to the Bar, which was “monitoring the ever-evolving science and guidelines as the nation, state, and local authorities navigate this once-in-a-generation pandemic.”

In the past, the exams have been conducted in large rooms that accommodate up to 1,000 test-takers, said Nancy Vincent, the board’s director of administration.

Rowland Edwards, who graduated from Loyola University’s School of Law in May, said the higher court’s decision put him and his peers in a tough position.

Edwards, 25 of Edgewater, had accepted a position with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office and had expected to start in August. When the bar exam was delayed in July, his start date was pushed to December. Now, he’s not sure if he’ll be able to work as a prosecutor this year, or if the position will still be available to him.

“This was definitely a life accomplishment for me,” Edwards said of the job offer. “The feeling of uncertainty around all this has been really hard.”

Some law students had petitioned for a “diploma privilege,” which would allow for them to start working without taking the exam. The state supreme court denied that request last week.