Graduating Law School in a Pandemic

Completing my final semester of law school was interesting, challenging, and quite monumental—though not for the reasons I had initially expected. The pandemic took over so quickly that Mitchell Hamline had no time to prepare staff and students before closing its doors and going completely online. This left many programs scrambling because there was no clear way to proceed with teaching and grading those classes that had been designed for in-person participation and discussions.

Even with all the unexpected issues, Mitchell Hamline and its staff did a tremendous job persevering through the semester and making sure we learned the necessary material. Deadlines were extended, assignments were changed to fit the online format, classroom discussions became online forums, and our finals were quickly re-written.

Luckily for me, the pandemic hit when I only had a few months left before earning my degree. However, that also meant I did not get to walk across the stage to accept my Juris Doctor with my family proudly looking on. The pandemic also precluded any big celebration with friends and family. There will be no photographs or fun memories of the graduation party I’d hoped to have. Instead, I clicked “submit” on my last online final and celebrated that monumental moment with my dog at home. There was some solace in knowing I was not alone. Not by a long shot.

After graduation, no one knew if they would even offer the bar exam, so my dream of becoming an attorney still lay in limbo. Ultimately, a limited number of people were allowed to take the bar on the original exam date in July. The remainder of the candidates took it either in September, or chose to wait until February 2021, in hopes that review courses would be back in person by then. I chose the February option, so fingers crossed.

Until then, 2020 law school graduates have been offered special certification as “Supervised Practitioners” to practice under a licensed attorney for 18-months, or until they take the bar exam. I have had the good fortune to continue working for Sjoberg & Tebelius, P.A.–where I have been working since well before I started law school–and I am now practicing law under the supervision of attorney Mark Tebelius.

Upon passing the bar exam in February 2021, I plan to continue my practice at Sjoberg & Tebelius, P.A. as a fully licensed attorney.

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