From the Chair: Life in the Time of Corona

Diane F. Bosse
Special Counsel
Hurwitz & Fine, P.C.
2019-2020 Council Chair

We will remember these times our entire lives. We will recall, in horror, the loss of life, livelihood, and, for too many, hope. We will celebrate the personal sacrifice made and risk assumed by so many in order to deliver care to those afflicted. We will find a new normal as we define life by before and after this pandemic.

I hope that all the members of the Section, their families, and all who are close to them are safe, healthy, and well. If there was ever a time when we needed to care for each other, it is now. We especially need to care for the class of 2020. The disarray of their final semester, the angst caused by the difficulty completing the academic work required for graduation, delayed or canceled bar exams, and the loss of jobs, and where jobs can be found, the uncertainty regarding practice orders pending delayed admission, would challenge any of us. Please reach out to this class and do what you can to facilitate their well-being as they steer through their uncertain path forward into the profession.

While this class will soon complete the academic year and receive their degrees, some at virtual commencement ceremonies, concern regarding the bar exam looms large. As of this writing, the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), in addition to making exam materials available for the traditional July dates if conditions allow, has announced that it will make bar exam materials available for two fall administrations, September 9-10 and September 30-October 1, with each jurisdiction deciding when it will administer the exam. NCBE maintains on its website a helpful and current listing of the decisions made by the jurisdictions.[1]

Many jurisdictions have announced an intention to proceed with the July exam, if circumstances permit. Others have canceled the July exam, with some announcing September dates. All jurisdictions are attempting to plan for a bar exam without knowing what crowd size and density restrictions or social distancing guidelines will be in place.

At the same time, many jurisdictions are addressing the problem of potentially delayed admission by enacting emergency rules to permit limited law practice under supervision. The NCBE website cited above includes links to the various temporary practice orders that have been issued by the states. The ABA Board of Governors adopted a resolution urging jurisdictions to adopt such rules.[2]  Importantly, the resolution reaffirmed “the historic and longstanding policy of the ABA supporting the use of a bar examination as an important criterion for admission to the bar.”[3]

While the current challenges faced by the class of 2020 are unprecedented, with our support, albeit with some possible delay, this class will take and pass the bar exam, be admitted to practice, and go on to serve their clients with renewed compassion and resolve to seek justice. If there is some good to come of this, I hope it is that we all share that renewal. 

In the midst of the pandemic, there was a change in the leadership of the Section. Bill Adams, who had served as Deputy Managing Director since 2014, was selected after a national search as our new Managing Director and began his new duties on April 6th. Bill came to the Section with substantial legal education administrative experience, having served as dean, associate dean, and professor of law, and over the last six years has developed significant expertise in the accreditation of law schools. Bill is past chair of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Section on Aging and the Law, the AALS Section on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, and the Florida Bar’s Public Interest Law Section. He is the 1994 recipient of the Dan Bradley Award, the National LGBT Bar Association’s highest award for contributions to LGBTQ equality.

Bill is smart, funny, and a tad irreverent. But what most defines Bill as I observed him over the last several years is his commitment to students. In his new position, Bill will, I am sure, continue to be a champion of law students and will insist that their interests be kept at the heart of all that we do. Please join the Council in congratulating Bill and wishing him success and satisfaction in his new position.

Bill has been baptized by fire, having assumed his duties during a public health emergency that has caused havoc and upheaval in legal education. Each day has brought a new challenge, as Bill addresses issues related to what are reasonable modifications to a school’s program of legal education in light of the on-going crisis; whether and how far, as an accrediting body recognized by the Department of Education, the Council may permit departure from the Standards; and what emergency rules might be considered – all while managing the day-to-day work of accreditation and the broader role of the Section. He has maintained his characteristic good humor while riding a river of inquiries from law schools and endless Zoom meetings and conference calls.   

We are not yet saying goodbye to Barry Currier, who served as Managing Director since 2013. He will continue to offer his assistance and substantial talent to the Section and the Council, and will remain in the office until later this summer. We’ll save our goodbyes – and our sincere expressions of our deep gratitude – til then. 

Stay safe. Be well. And, please, take care of each other and the class of 2020.

Warm regards,

Diane

[1] http://www.ncbex.org/ncbe-covid-19-updates/july-2020-bar-exam-jurisdiction-information/

[2] https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/legal_education_and_admissions_to_the_bar/20-aba-law-grad-limited-practice-rule-resolution-and-report.pdf

[3] At p.8

Entity:
Topic: