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Bar exam takers in California literally left in the cold, they say

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Adds comment for the state bar in paragraph six and updates the number of bar takers in paragraph 11

By Karen Sloan

Feb 28 (Reuters) -Some bar examinees in California said that they took the first day of the attorney licensing exam on Tuesday in cold temperatures, and they fear they won’t pass the two-day test as a result of the chilly conditions.

The Cow Palace—an arena and event center outside of San Francisco—was so inhospitable that some examinees struggled to complete the essay portion of the exam, according to comments posted to the online forum Reddit.

“I was so cold in the morning I almost couldn’t type my fingers were so freezing,” one bar taker wrote.

Examinee Deborah Tharp told Reuters on Wednesday that she experienced multiple muscle cramps throughout the day as a result of the cold conditions in the Cow Palace and that she complained to both the venue and the State Bar of California, which administers the exam. She had yet to receive any responses by Wednesday morning. The exam continues today with the Multistate Bar Exam, comprised of 200 multiple-choice questions.

“I could see my breath when I first arrived,” said Tharp, who added that it felt colder inside the venue than outside. “There was ice in the bottom of my water bottle that I picked up off the concrete floor when I was done.”

The state bar said in a statement on Wednesday that its staff is working with Cow Palace facility management to "resolve these issues as quickly as possible." The bar said that some test takers reported being cold Tuesday morning but by the end of the day some said it was too warm. A Cow Palace representative did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

The state bar moved the test to the Cow Palace from the Oakland Convention Center last year as part of a plan to reduce the number of bar exam sites and cut costs. In January it approved a plan that returns the July 2024 exam to the Oakland Convention Center.

The Cow Palace in Daly City hosts concerts, sports events and livestock shows. Temperatures in Daly City on Tuesday ranged from a low of 50 degrees to a high of 60 degrees, weather data showed.

Another Reddit user called the venue “ridiculously cold” on Tuesday.

“I went and sat in my car all of break just to try to bring my core body temperature back up,” they wrote. “And I was wearing sweats, a sweater, and a jacket.”

Tharp said she thought the heat was on at the Cow Palace on Tuesday but it wasn’t enough to adequately warm the space. Exam rules bar wearing hats, she said. Tharp said she is concerned that the Cow Palace examinees are now at a disadvantage with those taking the test at convention centers in Ontario and Pasadena in Southern California. The state bar said 1,483 people are testing at the Cow Palace.

“Our test scores are going to be weighted against people who were testing in adequate facilities,” she said.

Read more:

California bar exam sites reduced for July test

Taking the CA bar exam just got more expensive

Reporting by Karen Sloan


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