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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, June 28, 2018

33 Jurisdictions Now Use Uniform Bar Exam; California And Florida Are Two Biggest Holdouts

UBE, Uniform Bar Exam Gains Major Traction Across the Country:

The Uniform Bar Exam continues its march across the United States, with 33 jurisdictions now using or soon to adopt the standard test for attorney admissions.

The Supreme Courts of Illinois and Rhode Island this month formally adopted the uniform exam, and the Tennessee Supreme Court did so in April. Maryland and North Carolina each adopted the exam in November, and Texas could be next. A court-appointed task force in May recommended that the Lone Star state begin using the uniform exam while a similar committee in Ohio is expected to release its own recommendation next month.

“It probably did reach a critical mass where a lot of jurisdictions decided, ‘Hey, this is good for law students, it’s good for law schools, it’s good for consumers of legal services, and it promotes lawyer mobility,” said Judith Gundersen, president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, which creates the three components of the uniform bar exam and has advocated for its use nationally. “There just haven’t been problems, really, implementing it in states that have adopted it. I think that’s what’s giving other states that are coming on board some degree of comfort.”

The Uniform Bar Exam has transformed over the past eight years from an idea to a major force changing the way lawyers get admitted to practice. Attorneys who take the test in a uniform bar exam jurisdiction may transfer that score to any other state that also uses the standard test, meaning they don’t have to retake the bar as long as they meet the incoming jurisdiction’s cut scores. (Uniform bar jurisdictions each establish their own cut score, but 80 percent fall between 260 and 270 on a 400-point scale, according to Gundersen. Illinois has set a 266 cut score.) ...

But Uniform Bar Exam holdouts remain, namely California and Florida, which respectively see the second- and third-largest numbers of bar takers each year. Neither state appears poised to adopt the test in the near future.

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Given that most states still have experiential requirements (often 3-5 years) for getting waived in, this doesn't really help lawyer mobility all that much insofar as the largest issue concerning lawyer mobility is the legions of law school grads who lost the game of musical chairs in their own state and are looking elsewhere for that elusive first legal job.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jun 28, 2018 1:54:42 PM

How old a UBE score is acceptable to a state is decided by the transferee state. A few are two years, but a lot more are in the 3-5 range, so the mobility problem might be less than it seems at first glance. Here's a third party's list:
You can click on a particular state on this map, , to get a state's rule.

Posted by: Anonymous | Jun 29, 2018 8:29:38 AM