Law School Graduates Want Uniform Bar Exam to Go National

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Summary: A new poll shows law school graduates overwhelmingly want the UBE to go nationwide.

It’s well known that some states have easier bar exams than others, and law students are tired of the disparity. That’s at least according to a new study from Kaplan Bar Review. The company polled 1,000 law school graduates from 2016, and they asked them if they were in favor of all states administering the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE). The result was nearly unanimous; 91 percent wanted to see the test go nationwide. This percentage was up 11 percent from Kaplan’s 2013 poll.

So far, 26 states have already adopted the UBE, and the results have been mixed. In July, New York administered its first UBE, and the state saw a bar passage increase of 4 percent from the year before. Experts concluded the reason for this was that the UBE was easier than New York’s prior test, which was notoriously difficult. Conversely, New Mexico candidates were hit hard by the UBE, dropping the state’s bar passage rate by 13% from the prior year.

The following chart from UBE displays which states administer the test:

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The Uniform Bar Exam consists of a Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), the Multistate Performance Test (MPT), and the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE). Candidates who pass the exam are allowed to practice law in any state that administers the UBE. Thus, a New York lawyer can easily begin practice in Kansas if he chose to without having to sit for another bar exam.

When Kaplan asked respondents why they wanted to see the UBE go nationwide, 89 percent cited job portability, 38 percent said the test is easier to prep for, and 16 percent said the test content is easier.

“While the job market for new attorneys has improved significantly in recent years, it remains tight, and law school graduates recognize that the UBE offers greater portability and flexibility in terms of career opportunities. The UBE is not necessarily an easier exam than state-specific bar exams, but it may make the job search a bit easier,” Tammi Rice, vice president of Kaplan Bar Review, said.

Rice added that although an overwhelming amount of graduates want the UBE in every state, almost half of the country has not adopted it.

“It’s important to note, however, that although more than 90 percent of recent graduates prefer universal adoption the UBE, half of the U.S. jurisdictions still don’t use this, including four of the five biggest states: California, Texas, Florida and Illinois,” Rice said. “This may change, but given unique issues that states face, we believe many will hold onto their state-specific bar exams.”

Kaplan reported that three states, Illinois, Maine, and North Carolina, are considering adopting the UBE.

Source: Kaplan Bar Review

Do you think the UBE should be adopted nationwide? Let us know in the comments below. 

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