Law school graduates can temporarily practice law in New Jersey without bar due to pandemic

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The Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex, which includes the offices and courtroom of the New Jersey Supreme Court, stands on Market Street in Trenton, New Jersey, U.S., on Tuesday, March 11, 2014. New Jersey’s pension system is underfunded by $52 billion after a decade of expanded benefits and missed payments, Governor Chris Christie said last month. Photographer: Ron Antonelli/Bloomberg via Getty Images

 (CNN) — Law school graduates will be able to practice law temporarily in New Jersey without taking the bar exam after the state test was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, the state Supreme Court ruled.

Students who graduate in 2020 before the bar exam is held in the fall can practice under the supervision of an attorney in good standing with a three-year license, according to an order from the Supreme Court.

“At this challenging time, the public has a continuing and growing need for legal services in many critical areas,” Chief Justice Stuart Rabner said in a press release last week. “Newly admitted lawyers can help meet that need.”

The graduates must apply to take the first scheduled bar exam after graduation or qualify for one extension, and they must have a degree from an accredited law school.

They also must get certification from the Supreme Court Committee on Character before working as attorneys.

The order allows graduates to do such things as drafting legal documents and pleadings, providing client legal services and taking part in negotiations and settlement discussions.

“The temporary ability to practice law will lapse if the graduate does not sit for the first bar exam scheduled after graduation, unless granted an extension, or if the graduate does not pass the exam,” the release said.

The July bar exam has tentatively been set for September 9-10, but that is subject to health conditions, officials said Monday.

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