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New Message from Chief Judge DiFiore - July 27th, 2020

Transcript of the Chief Judge's Message

Rule 520.8 and 520.12 Waiver Order
The Court of Appeals has issued an order waiving strict compliance with the requirements of section 520.8 and 520.12 of the Rules for the Admission of Attorneys and Counselors at Law (22 NYCRR 520.8 and 520.12) to permit the New York State Board of Law Examiners to replace the Uniform Bar Examination with the Emergency Remote Testing Option to be offered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners on October 5-6 and to require an applicant who passes the Emergency Remote Testing Option to complete an application for admission within one year from the date when such applicant sits for the second day of the Emergency Remote Testing Option. A copy of the order can be accessed here.
Bar Examination Update - July 23, 2020

Over the past several months, the Board of Law Examiners worked to achieve a safe administration of the Uniform Bar Examination on September 9-10.  However, on July 16, having determined that the plan for a socially-distanced in-person examination, developed with the support and generosity of the New York law school deans, had become impractical, the Board made the difficult decision to cancel the September administration of the exam. Because public health conditions across the country have not adequately abated and the pandemic remains an active and ongoing threat to public health in a growing number of states, at this juncture an in-person examination is not a viable option. 
In anticipation of this possibility, working with the Presiding Justices of the Appellate Division, the Court of Appeals developed a temporary practice authorization program permitting eligible law school graduates to engage in the supervised practice of law, which is now up and running in each of the Appellate Division Departments. Additionally, Chief Judge DiFiore assembled a Working Group, chaired by retired Court of Appeals Judge Howard A. Levine, to study the future of the bar exam in New York.  As its first undertaking, members of the Working Group were tasked with studying whether immediate, emergency measures are necessary to address the disruption experienced by aspiring attorneys in New York.  Under the leadership of Judge Levine, the Working Group has issued a comprehensive report and several recommendations addressing these urgent issues.
Initially, the Working Group evaluated the necessity of alternative pathways to licensure, noting the availability of the temporary practice authorization program and expressing a preference to postpone examination until February 2021.  But this alternative was rejected because of the uncertainty associated with holding an in-person examination at that time.  Ultimately, in light of the exigencies presented by the pandemic, the Working Group recommended that New York administer, on a one-time basis, the emergency remote testing option to be offered by the NCBE on October 5-6.  While acknowledging the shortcomings of the remote exam – including its experimental nature – the Working Group, in consultation with technology, security and psychometric experts, discussed proactive measures to ensure broad access, mitigate security risks and establish a reliable grading methodology.  In addition, although it did not take a position on the issue, the Working Group recommended that the Court and the Board evaluate the wisdom of reciprocity arrangements that would permit candidates to transfer their remote exam scores across jurisdictions.  The Working Group rejected a temporary diploma privilege option, noting that the bar exam provides critical assurance to the public that admitted attorneys meet minimum competency requirements, emphasizing New York’s immense candidate pool as well as the degree of variation in legal curricula across the country. 
The Court commends the Working Group for its prompt and thoughtful consideration of how best to address the pressing challenges posed by the health crisis and has accepted these recommendations.  New York will participate, with appropriate safeguards, in the remote bar examination to be administered on October 5-6. Candidates registered for the September exam will be automatically registered for the October remote exam.  The Court and the Board will also give careful consideration to waiver requests by JD candidates who graduated in 2019 or later, previously took the bar examination in New York and failed no more than two times and who wish to sit for the online examination.  Further, the Board will make reasonable efforts to address technological or testing space issues for candidates who promptly seek assistance in advance of the examination.
Further information regarding the remote exam will be posted as it becomes available.  Please continue to monitor this website, as well the Board of Law Examiners’ website, for additional updates.

Prior Bar Examination and Legal Education updates can be accessed here.
Notice to the Bar - Court of Appeals Operations – July 22, 2020

Court of Appeals Hall is now open for in-person filings in accordance with current Court system guidelines. Individuals filing papers in person will be screened at the Eagle Street entrance before entering Court of Appeals Hall. The Court will continue to accept submissions by mail and, as permitted by its Rules, electronically. Courtroom tours for visitors will not be available until further notice.

The Court is scheduled to hear in-person oral argument at Court of Appeals Hall during its September Session, following appropriate health safety protocols. At this time, it is anticipated that the courtroom will be closed to the general public. Oral argument will be webcast live.

Please check this website for notices of any further changes to the Court's schedule or procedures. The full notice to the bar can be accessed here.

Notice to the Bar - 2021 Calendar of Sessions

The Court of Appeals has released its 2021 Calendar of Sessions. The schedule includes the appeal sessions as well as the Court’s conference days, which are scheduled for June 17 and 18 and December 9 and 10. May 18 is a special primary election appeals session day.

The full Notice can be accessed here.
Amended 2020 Calendar of Sessions
The Court of Appeals has amended its 2020 Calendar of Sessions, changing argument dates for its September and October sessions. The revised calendar also reflects changes made to the March, April-May and June sessions to address the coronavirus public health emergency.
The full Notice can be accessed here
Notice to the Bar – The Court has amended its Rules of Practice – Companion Submissions in Digital Format
The Court has amended its Rules of Practice to require, for motions and responses to Rule 500.10 jurisdictional inquiries, submissions in digital format as companions to the printed papers filed and served in accordance with the Court’s Rules of Practice. The Court has also amended its Rules of Practice to reduce the number of printed copies that must be filed for civil motions for leave to appeal, reargument motions, and papers in opposition to those motions. The amended Rules are effective May 27, 2020. Any responses to Rule 500.10 jurisdictional inquiries requested on or after May 27, 2020 and any motions returnable on or after June 1, 2020 must comply with the amended Rules. A full copy of the notice to the bar, and relevant portions of the proposed amended Rules, can be accessed here.
The Court has amended its Rules for the Registration of In-House Counsel (Part 522), effective April 15, 2020
The Court has amended its Rules for the Registration of In-House Counsel (Part 522), effective April 15, 2020. The amendments permit part-time in-house counsel practice; clarify that there is no New York residency requirement under Part 522; expand the grace period for registering as in-house counsel; authorize a 90-day period to cure any past failures to register as in-house counsel; eliminate the reciprocity requirement for in-house counsel registration by foreign attorneys; eliminate the requirement that foreign attorneys be and remain members in good standing of their home jurisdiction bars if such membership is unavailable to in-house counsel, as is the case in a number of civil law jurisdictions; permit foreign attorneys to apply for registration as in-house counsel on the basis of affidavits if their home jurisdiction is unable to provide proof of good standing because of a lack of structure of legal oversight of in-house counsel in that jurisdiction; and permit foreign attorneys who are registered as in-house counsel to provide pro bono services under the direct supervision of a duly registered New York attorney. The full notice can be accessed here.
Excellence Initiative
On February 8, 2016, Chief Judge DiFiore announced the Excellence Initiative, a detailed and comprehensive evaluation of current processes and procedures to determine what is working well and what needs to be improved in the New York State Unified Court System. For more information on this initiative, including how comments may be submitted to the Chief Judge, please see Excellence Initiative.


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