MARYLAND STATE BOARD OF LAW EXAMINERS COVID-19 EMERGENCY RESPONSE (REVISED 5/29/2020)
The State of Maryland continues under a state of emergency, as established by the governor, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The expected impact of the state of emergency on bar applications, bar examinations, and bar admissions is as follows:
To ALL APPLICANTS:
By order of the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals of Maryland, all Maryland Courts and judicial offices, including the State Board of Law Examiners’ (SBLE) administrative office are now closed to the public, except for certain emergency matters in the courts. Be advised that the Chief Judge’s Order does not include any bar admissions-related matters as “emergency matters.” As such, SBLE will operate with drastically reduced staffing until at least June 5, 2020, and potentially beyond.
SSBLE will continue to accept bar application materials for all applicant types during the emergency. Due to the closure of judicial facilities to the public, all application materials should be sent via US Mail, FedEx, UPS, or similar. SBLE strongly recommends that applicants send any such items using a trackable delivery method without requiring a signature. In addition, SBLE continues to maintain a physical drop box, which is located in the lobby of the Courts of Appeal building at 361 Rowe Boulevard, Annapolis, MD 21401. Hand-delivered bar applications should be entirely contained in a clearly-marked envelope for the “State Board of Law Examiners” and placed in the drop box marked “SBLE.” The Courts of Appeal building is open from 8:30am to 4:30pm. Applicants may be required to undergo security screening upon entering the Courthouse. Applicants should comply with health directives regarding face masks and social distancing when dropping off a bar application in the drop box. SBLE cannot confirm receipt of application materials by phone or email. Application filing statuses will be updated on applicants’ secure eBar portals as materials are received, reviewed, and accepted for filing.
To JULY 2020 BAR EXAM APPLICANTS:
Maryland’s 2020 Uniform Bar Examination (UBE), which was scheduled to take place July 28-29 at the Baltimore Convention Center, has been postponed.
The Maryland Court of Appeals issued an administrative order on May 26, 2020, postponing the July 2020 Bar Exam due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The UBE is tentatively rescheduled for Sept. 9-10, at multiple locations, which will be determined and announced at a later date. Various factors were taken into consideration, including the number of exam filings received by the May 20 filing deadline, as well as discussions between the State Board of Law Examiners (SBLE) and the governor’s chief legal counsel. SBLE concluded it could not administer a single-site bar exam in July 2020. The Board’s ability to administer the UBE on Sept. 9-10 will depend on the status of COVID-19 in the state of Maryland and public health recommendations regarding group gatherings and social distancing.
There will be no new, additional, or extended application filing periods because of this delay. Applications timely filed by the May 20 filing deadline will be carried over automatically to the September administration. Requests for the board to accept late-filed applications, pursuant to Maryland Rule 19-206(d) and Board Rule 2, will be addressed pursuant to those rules.
Character & fitness supporting documentation that can be obtained online (such as credit reports and, in some cases, official driving records) should accompany the applicant’s hard-copy filing. Where COVID-19-related closures of courts, other government agencies, and/or businesses prevent applicants from obtaining required character & fitness documentation, applicants should include in their hard copy filing a separate, signed statement briefly describing their efforts to obtain the missing documentation and acknowledging their continuing duty to provide such missing documentation when available.
To APPLICANTS WHO WERE SUCCESSFUL ON THE FEBRUARY 2020 UBE:
Character and fitness investigations and evaluations for February 2020 bar exam applicants continue to proceed. Please continue to watch your email for updates and requests for information from the Board and/or the Character Committees.
BAR ADMISSIONS CEREMONIES:
During the emergency, SBLE will continue to clear applicants to the Court for admission as appropriate. The Clerk’s Office will communicate directly with eligible applicants for scheduling purposes.
The Court of Appeals will conduct live, online bar admission ceremonies on June 16, 2020 for applicants who were successful on the February 2020 UBE Successful applicants will receive information directly from the Clerk’s Office at the Court of Appeals regarding these admissions ceremonies after they are cleared for admission by SBLE. Please watch your email for updates on these ceremonies.
Questions regarding SBLE’s COVID-19 response cannot be answered by telephone, but should be sent by email to SBLE@mdcourts.gov.
Welcome. The State Board of Law Examiners coordinates the receipt and filing of applications for admission to the Maryland bar, administers the bar examination in Maryland, investigates the legal competence and character and fitness of persons who seek a license to practice law in the state courts of Maryland, and recommends to the Court of Appeals of Maryland those candidates qualified for admission to the Maryland bar.
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