So what are the UBE states, and why should you care?
Law students historically have had to make pretty important decisions prior to taking the Bar Exam. They had to decide where they wanted to live and work, PRIOR to taking this test. This decision needed to made ahead of time because Bar Exam scores were not usually transferable to another state.
For example, I took the Bar Exam in Florida. I am licensed to practice law in Florida. But, if I wanted to move to another state, depending on that state’s admission criteria, I might have to take the exam all over again. Color me horrified!
If you are taking the Bar Exam in one of the growing number of UBE states, consider yourself LUCKY! By taking it in such a state, you are essentially sitting for the Bar in all of the jurisdictions that are currently using the UBE. And that is happy news indeed!
What Are the UBE States?
So…what are the UBE states, and are you lucky enough to live in one? Here is a rundown of the states that are currently using the UBE.
If you are in any of the states above that contain a blue star, then you are in a UBE jurisdiction. Below are a list of other jurisdictions that use the UBE that are not shown on the map:
- District of Columbia (on map but hard to see)
- U.S. Virgin Islands
Uniform Bar Exam: A Trend That Is Gaining Momentum
As you can see, over half of the states are now using the UBE. This allows you to have much greater flexibility in your career choices, and is a trend that is happily on the rise. The adoption of the UBE by New York State in early 2016 gave the UBE a much-needed boost, with several states following suit shortly thereafter.
The second boost to this trend also happened in early 2016, when the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association adopted a resolution endorsing the adoption of the UBE in all states and jurisdictions of the United States.
In my humble opinion, this would be an amazing and wonderful change! If there were actually a nationwide Bar Exam, that would make it much easier for lawyers to cross state lines and retain their ability to practice law.
States Still Maintaining Independence from the UBE
In case you’re wondering if this is actually a good idea, it is helpful to keep a few factors in mind. Even under the UBE, states still maintain autonomy in these areas:
- States independently decide the passing score in their state.
- In other words, the passing score in Alabama is 260, while the passing score in South Carolina is 266. You’ll want check the passing score of your state. This not only maintains states’ autonomy in setting their own standards, but gives you options. For instance, if you take the exam in South Carolina and get a 260, you can choose to take it again and try for that 266 in South Carolina . . . or you can move to Alabama where you passed. (You may not want to move, but at least you have more OPTIONS!)
- States independently decide if they want to include any testing on state-specific law.
- States independently grade the MEE and MPT.
- States independently decide character and fitness for practice requirements.
- States independently decide how long UBE scores remain portable, and how far back they will accept UBE scores from another state.
So even though the UBE makes portability much easier, it does not solve every hurdle. There will be some hoops to jump through. You do have to apply for admission to the Bar of any state in which you wish to practice. However the UBE makes the issue of Bar Exam portability much easier to handle, and in some cases eliminates this hurdle altogether!
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