Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

ABA Asks States To Adopt Uniform Bar Exam 'Expeditiously'

UBENational Law Journal, Nationalized Bar Exam Endorsed by ABA:

Bar admission authorities across the nation should move quickly to adopt the uniform bar exam, the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates decided Monday.

The house adopted a resolution endorsing the exam, which enables takers to carry their scores to other jurisdictions that use the standard test. Twenty-one states are now using the standard exam, or will begin using it by 2017. The ABA’s Law Student Division introduced the resolution, arguing that it increases mobility for young lawyers and reduces their bar admission costs.

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Quite frankly, if I need to hire a lawyer, I want one who knows all the particulars of my state, county and city. That local knowledge matters. --Michael W. Perry | Feb 10, 2016 8:58:00 AM

That's an excellent argument for the absurdity of a unique, non-transferable bar exam for each of the over 3000 counties in the US.

Let's be honest. Passage of the bar exam is no guarantee of the quality of the lawyer.

Posted by: Micha Elyi | Feb 11, 2016 2:24:54 AM

Because what do I care if a lawyer in Tennessee knows the law in California? There are different laws in every state, I doubt any lawyer in the country knows how they differ without doing research.

Posted by: Tim McDonald | Feb 10, 2016 5:30:21 PM

I'd rather have a Federal and State Bar exam.
I don't give a tinker's damn about state law, and wouldn't really be competent to represent someone in my state courts (despite passing my state's bar exam). All my work is Federal and the idea that I'd have to re-test to do my job if I moved to another state is laughable.

Posted by: momo | Feb 10, 2016 4:24:50 PM

Reading stuff like this makes me feel like a sucker for studying every day for 8-10 hours for 7 straight weeks. People don't fail because of certain actors, they fail because they either don't put in the work to understand what the bar exam is, or didn't put in the work in law school. I got copies of every essay exam for the ten years prior and took every one of them as practice. Do the work, you will pass. Don't so it, you won't. It's that simple.

Posted by: Brian G. | Feb 10, 2016 3:51:25 PM

If I was a state bar, I would not trust the ABA to oversee my entrance requirements.

Posted by: Justin Morton | Feb 10, 2016 2:41:56 PM

Michael- would recommend reading the report. Would love to hear your thoughts after. Thanks.

Posted by: Chris | Feb 10, 2016 1:17:47 PM

Adopting something that's uniform and universal 'expeditiously' is often foolish. How do you know something is a good idea if you can't compare state with state? That's most obvious when it comes to nation-wide education schemes such as Common Core. But it also applies to other areas.

After all, there's more to law than increasing "mobility for young lawyers." The glut of lawyers seems to be nationwide. There is little reason for lawyers from states with a surplus to migrate to ones where there's a shortage.

And how can any law exam work at the national level? Some states are heavily agricultural, while others have a major financial sector. A bar exam that works for one will work poorly for the other. Even laws in two such states are likely to be different. How can one bar exam cover both? It can't.

I'm sure the ABA has it's reasons for supporting this idea. I'm just not sure the idea makes as much sense as is being claimed. Quite frankly, if I need to hire a lawyer, I want one who knows all the particulars of my state, county and city. That local knowledge matters. I don't want one who just moved here from far away.

Posted by: Michael W. Perry | Feb 10, 2016 8:58:00 AM

I can't help but think this is a Trojan Horse for lower bar exam standards across the nation.

Otherwise, I strongly agree with transferability of licensure.

Posted by: JM | Feb 10, 2016 8:53:03 AM

Todd-- the UBE scores expire in 3 or 5 years (usually 3), so this is primarily for those who have almost no reciprocity or ability to waive in on motion now.

Posted by: Chris | Feb 10, 2016 8:40:45 AM

If this was adopted by all 50 states, what would happen to the lawyers who are already in practice? Hopefully our licenses would now be freely transferrable as well?

Posted by: Todd | Feb 10, 2016 7:05:35 AM