Legal education confronts the pandemic

The coronavirus emergency is forcing many changes to legal education in Indiana. Law schools and the judiciary are changing procedures, canceling events and finding alternatives as the prohibitions on large gatherings appear likely to continue for the foreseeable future. Below is an overview of the changes to the spring 2020 semester and beyond.

Grading: IU Maurer and IU McKinney have switched from awarding letter grades to giving either a satisfactory or fail notation. Notre Dame Law School has given students a choice. The institution is keeping the current grading system in place, but students can opt to have their grades converted to pass or no credit. Valparaiso University has extended the deadline for undergraduates wanting to switch to a satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading system. Whether the law school is also changing its grading method is unclear.

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Graduation ceremonies: IU Maurer, IU McKinney, Valparaiso and Notre Dame have canceled their graduation ceremonies previously scheduled for May. The Fighting Irish have announced plans to have members of the Class of 2020 return to campus on Memorial Day Weekend 2021 for their commencement. The celebration will include all the traditional elements of a Notre Dame commencement, including a convocation in Notre Dame Stadium with the traditional cap and gown ceremonies, a Mass and a commencement ball. The law school celebration will include a doctoral hooding ceremony and honors convocation.

Bar exam: The Indiana Supreme Court will announce plans May 8 as to whether the bar exam will be given in July or postponed to a later date. The National Conference of Bar Examiners will announce around May 5 whether it will be deploying the multistate portions of the bar exam. Indiana incorporates the multistate bar exam and the multistate performance test into the state’s test. In the meantime, the Supreme Court has extended the filing deadline for applications for the July exam to May 4. If the exam is not administered in July, the court has provided a contingency plan for refunding the applicants’ filing fees.

Limited practice: The Indiana Supreme Court is allowing members of the Class of 2020 who have not yet taken the bar exam to serve as graduate legal interns until the February 2021 bar exam. These interns must be supervised and have all their work approved by a licensed attorney, but they will be able to interview, advise, negotiate for and represent parties in any judicial or administrative proceedings.

LSAT: The Law School Admission Council canceled the March and April dates for the Law School Admission Test. As a replacement, the council is offering LSAT-Flex in the second half of May. This online, remotely proctored version of the LSAT will consist of three 35-minute sections that will include reading comprehension as well as analytical and logical reasoning.•

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