Law Students: Preparing to Wait

In the past few months, there have been many changes to the world around us because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing, many non-essential retail shops temporarily closing, and restaurants offering only delivery or curbside takeout. An area that has not been left alone in this pandemic is higher education. 

As you may or may not know, the Illinois Supreme Court has postponed its July 2020 bar exam. It is now scheduled for September 9 and 10, 2020. Generally, bar exams around the country are the last Tuesday and Wednesday (and sometimes Thursday) in July. This means that new law school graduates will study from mid- to late May until the end of July, and in August they will be free to work, pending bar results. This creates a huge lag in when law students are able to work after graduation, as they will likely now need to be off (or at least work on a part-time basis) through the beginning of September. And even after the exam, the exam takers must wait about 8-10 weeks after the exam for their results, pushing results to November, when the swearing-in ceremony for the July bar exam is usually in the beginning half of November. 

In addition to this time frame, this is likely to make employers push off making offers to new graduates. Some law students may have already had jobs lined up for after they graduated. But what if they didn’t have anything lined up, were in the middle of interviewing and waiting to hear back, or if were in the process of setting up interviews for August, after the bar exam was over? Employers who may historically wait until October to make job offers to newly admitted attorneys may now be waiting until December to make those job offers now, if at all given the economic situation of this time. 

So what does this mean for the recent graduate trying to take the bar exam in Illinois? Unfortunately, it means they may need to work part time during their extended bar prep, or take out a loan for living expenses. Although new graduates get a six month grace period on their student loans, this will likely put them in November when they will need to start paying back their federal student loans, which seems like it will be before many graduates are able to obtain a job. While postponing the bar exam in an exercise of caution is not a bad idea from the safety aspect of having the students in the same room to take the exam, it, unfortunately, presents a whole mess of issues related to employment and student loans. 

Law students not yet graduated and sitting for the bar have also been affected. Many summer internships and summer associate jobs have either been postponed, have been majorly modified, or have been canceled completely for the summer of 2020. While it is important for students to obtain employment and experience, especially in the summer between their second and third years of law school, those affected should utilize the downtime to build their networks and build the practical skills necessary for whatever they wish to do in their legal careers. Maybe this means being more active on LinkedIn, finding programs to complete to put on their skillset for their resume, or getting on their school’s alumni job board to see what is available. 

This isn’t the same fact set as the 2008 recession, but law students and recent graduates trying to obtain post-graduation employment are certainly seeing the repercussions of this pandemic on the legal field.  

The long term effects on the entire legal industry, much like many other industries are,  are unknown. 

Written by Kelli M. Lardi

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This is a legal advertisement from Sterk Family Law Group. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be construed as such. This article is for informational and educational purposes only.


This is a legal advertisement from Sterk Family Law Group. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be construed as such. This article is for informational and educational purposes only.

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