UBE Score Portability Explained

UBE Score Portability Explained

Once upon a time, before UBE score portability existed, every state had their own state-specific Bar Exam. This made it tricky for lawyers in one state to move to another state.

Lawyers had to apply to the State Bar of the state within which they wished to move. That State Bar would require multiple things from the lawyer, and it varied from state to state.

However, bar exam scores were not portable to all other states. There was some reciprocity in few instances, so the new state could require the incoming lawyer to take portions of the Bar Exam again. Sometimes, the entire Bar Exam needed to be retaken.

This method was time consuming, and quite painstaking for the incoming lawyer.

Widespread Adoption of the UBE Is Simplifying Transitions

However, with more and more jurisdictions adopting the UBE (Uniform Bar Exam), questions abound as to what it means as far as reciprocity and portability of a UBE score.

As with everything in law, it’s not as simple as one might think at first glance.

Yes, a UBE scores are far more portable from UBE state to UBE state. Generally, a UBE score earned in a UBE jurisdiction is transferable to another UBE jurisdiction. In fact, if the score that you earn in State A is not a passing score in State A, but IS a passing score in State B, then you can shuffle off to State B and apply for admission using your portable UBE score.

Seems simple, but there are a few things to remember.

Every state has its own Bar Association that makes its own rules and procedures for admission to its Bar. They each have adopted their own character/fitness requirements and passing bar score among other things.

So you must always check with your jurisdictions of interest to know exactly what they require.

And if we dig a bit deeper, it can get a bit more complicated.

Let’s say you took all portions of the UBE in a non-UBE jurisdiction. There are states that are not officially “UBE States” but do administer the MBE, MEE and MPT. So you may feel like you’ve taken the UBE, since you took all of its component parts, but you would be wrong.

The UBE is actually more than sum of its parts.

The UBE is administered at exactly the same time, in exactly the same way in all UBE jurisdictions. The NCBE is particular about all aspects of the UBE. So in order for your score to be portable, you must’ve taken it in a state that has officially adopted the UBE. Beyond that, you must check with your jurisdiction.

You will hear me say that a lot. Check with your jurisdictions. This is very important since guidelines and policies are always changing.

Also, if you take the MBE it may be transferable to another jurisdiction regardless of its UBE status. The MBE is given simultaneously throughout the country, so many states will accept your MBE score from another state. Then again, some won’t.

Again, check with your jurisdiction.

The Future of UBE Score Portability

Another interesting thing to think about is the future of UBE portability. If you take the UBE in 2017, then in 2017 it is transferrable to most UBE states. However, say you want to move to Florida, which is not a UBE jurisdiction. But lets say that in 2019 Florida becomes a UBE state. Florida will then decide how far back they will accept UBE scores from other states. As long as you’ve taken the UBE within those guideline years, you’re golden.

As you can see, the state of UBE reciprocity and portability is still in flux. This is mostly a result of the fact that there are still many states that have not yet adopted the UBE. Hopefully this will change. With the ABA endorsing the use of this exam in all states, and New York jumping on board recently, we are likely headed in that direction.

Someday, hopefully soon, the US will have a nationwide Bar Exam that will cross all state lines! This would make life much easier for lawyers who wish to move during the course of their career, and hopefully eliminate the need for anyone to be forced to sit for the Bar Exam more than once!

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