Coronavirus Daily Update: Appellate Division to Conduct Virtual Admission Ceremonies, Fall Bar Exam Contingency Plans Pursued

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Good evening Members,

The presiding justices of the Appellate Division, who are responsible for overseeing the admission of attorneys to the practice of law in New York, said they will soon resume the admissions process by conducting virtual admission ceremonies for eligible candidates.

In their latest statement, Justices Rolando T. Acosta, Alan D. Scheinkman, Elizabeth A. Garry and Gerald J. Whalen said character and fitness interviews may also be waived or conducted virtually.

“While the precise methodology may vary somewhat among the departments, we are each committed to admitting all qualified candidates as expeditiously as circumstances permit,” the justices wrote.

Candidates awaiting admission – law school graduates who have already passed the bar exam –will be contacted by staff from the Committee on Character and Fitness.

“Because of the substantial volume of pending admission applications, we request that candidates wait to be contacted,” the justices wrote. “We would appreciate your patience. Otherwise, status inquiries from the thousands of people now awaiting admission will consume our staff’s time and potentially delay the admissions themselves.”

Fall Bar Exam Contingency Plans

The Court of Appeals announced today that it is looking into contingency plans in case the rescheduled Sept. 9-10 New York bar exam is forced to be postponed.

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore has convened a working group led by Associate Judge Michael J. Garcia “to evaluate potential solutions and prepare for possible eventualities.”

The working group is exploring the possibility of expanding the use of practice orders, among other means of providing temporary authorization for recent graduates to engage in the limited practice of law.

“We share the concerns expressed to us by the valued members of our legal community – law students, law school representatives, legal employers, and clients, among others – regarding lingering uncertainties and the immense challenges that may result from further postponement,” said the statement. “We value your input and remain committed to addressing your concerns in a manner that balances the interests of the public, the integrity of the legal profession, and the needs of recent law school graduates eager to join the workforce.”

NYSBA’s Task Force on the New York Bar Examination issued a report last week that recommended an early September bar exam, as well as the expansion of authority for practice orders that allow law graduates who meet specified criteria to engage in certain law practice under supervision of licensed attorneys.

More Virtual Family Courts Added in NYC

In response to the increasing volume of essential and emergency matters brought before the New York City Family Court, the court system today increased its number of virtual courtrooms from three to five.

All virtual courtrooms are presided over by Family Court judges and are limited to addressing the following essential and emergency matters:

  • Child protection intake cases involving remand applications
  • Newly filed juvenile delinquency intake cases involving remand applications and modifications of such orders
  • Family offense petitions requesting temporary orders of protection

Upon submission, the court is also reviewing orders to show cause requesting emergency relief, and stipulations.

For information about how to file the above petitions, motions and stipulations, see the NYC Family Court.

“NY Pause” Guidance for Lawyers

In case you missed it earlier today, the New York State Empire State Development issued the following guidance regarding the status of lawyers as essential workers:

Lawyers may continue to perform all work necessary for any service so long as it is performed remotely. Any in-person work presence shall be limited to work only in support of essential businesses or services; however, even work in support of an essential business or service should be conducted as remotely as possible.

Click here for additional information.

Latest NYSBA.ORG Coronavirus News
We are adding new content each day to our website related to the coronavirus public health emergency and its impact on the legal community.

Today we have a videoconferencing Q&A addressing cybersecurity concerns and proper etiquette. We also have expert analysis on limiting construction risk from the coronavirus outbreak through force majeure clauses.

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