Uniform Bar Exam Grows In Popularity

Uniform Bar Exam Grows In Popularity

More than half of the states in America now use the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE).

The exam, which allows attorneys to transfer their score to any other jurisdiction that uses the standardized test, is growing in popularity with 34 states (or U.S. territories) currently or soon accepting the standardized test, according to Law.com. The latest states to accept the exam are Illinois, Rhode Island, and Tennessee.

“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,” Judith Gundersen, president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, told Law.com. “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.”

Below are states (or US territories) that now accept the exam or are planning to:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Guam
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Oregon
  • Palau
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Uniform Bar Exam vs. State Bar Exam

Unlike a state bar exam, the UBE is uniformly administered, graded, and scored, according to the National Jurist. Yet, each state that administers the UBE is allowed to set its own pass rate and additional requirements such as the character and fitness requirements.

“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,” according to Law.com.

While each state sets their own cut score, Law.com reports that roughly 80% fall between 260 and 270 on a 400-point scale.

More Options For Law Grads

For attorneys, the UBE could mean more options to practice law in a variety of states, depending on the state’s cut score. In Illinois, the cut score is 266.

“The deans were very convinced that this would improve the ability of graduates of [an] Illinois law school to become members of the bar and find gainful employment, not just in Illinois but elsewhere,” Kaufman told Law.com. “Any time that the profession is more open and welcoming to qualified lawyers and less prone to closing the door, that’s a good thing.”

Sources: Law.com, National Jurist