Paul L. Caron

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Professor, Please Help Me Pass The Bar Exam: #NEXTGENBAR2025/26

Melissa Shultz (Mitchell Hamline), Professor, Please Help Me Pass the Bar Exam: #NEXTGENBAR2025/26, 69 J. Legal Educ. ___ (2022):

For students who begin law school in 2022, the final hurdle that they must clear to use their hard-earned degrees—the bar exam—will be substantively and structurally distinct from all bar exams previously administered. Although (with rousing support from law school graduates) this so-called NextGen bar exam reduces the breadth of legal knowledge examinees must memorize, it is novel in its breadth of skills testing and its requirement that examinees engage in practice-skills not previously tested on the bar exam, including client counseling, negotiation, and legal research. Moreover, the NextGen bar exam will no longer be anchored by 200-multiple-choice questions, but it will require students to grapple with various subjects in multiple ways moving from multiple-choice questions to short answer questions to essay questions to task-based performance exercises.

These monumental changes to the bar exam do not allow for the legal academy to take a tempered “wait-and-see” approach before taking action. Instead, law schools must—working together—understand the changes adopted by the National Conference of Bar Examiners in January of 2021 and begin to meaningfully adjust their curricular and assessment practices to ensure students graduating in 2025 or 2026 (when the NextGen exam will first be administered) have the skills necessary to clear the new, final hurdle of the NextGen bar exam.

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