The UBE and Your Marketability

By Mary Goza, BARBRI Vice President

The trend is underway to reduce the need for new lawyers to take another bar exam in order to become licensed in another state. With the advent of the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE), an applicant may sit for one bar exam and become licensed in several jurisdictions. With proper planning, you can enhance your marketability through the UBE.

UBE SCORES ARE UNIFORMALLY ACCEPTED

The UBE is a two-day exam drafted by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), consisting of the Multistate Essay Exam (30%), Multistate Performance Test (20%) and Multistate Bar Exam (50%).

The components of the UBE are not new and have long been part of the bar exam format in many states. However, the UBE rests upon an agreement, whereby a state agrees to give full faith and credit to a score achieved on the bar exam in another jurisdiction because that jurisdiction uniformly administers, grades and scores the exam. Currently 13 states have adopted the Uniform Bar Exam:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Idaho
  • Minnesota (February 2014)
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire (February 2014)
  • North Dakota
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

WHAT IS NOT UNIFORM ABOUT THE UBE

Each UBE state sets its own passing score. The score is portable to another UBE state as long as you sit for the entire exam at one time in the same location. You may transfer the score, even if you “fail” the bar exam.

For example, a student who takes the UBE in Colorado and fails to achieve the required passing score of 276 out of 400 may transfer the score to Utah, a UBE jurisdiction for which the passing score is 270 out of 400. The UBE score is not valid beyond a set period of time and each state sets its own deadline, varying between three and five years.

The essay and performance test component is graded locally and not by a set of national graders. The testing entity provides grading guidelines and training for each state in order to promote consistency.

Because the grading process and size of the applicant pool varies by state, not all states are prepared to release results on the same day. The date when bar exam results are released is determined by each state and can vary between six to 10 weeks.

You may transfer your UBE score but you may not transfer your approved status from one state to another. The decision as to who may sit for the bar, including the educational and character requirements, is up to each state. To acquire a law license in a UBE state other than the one in which you sat for the bar, you need to submit an application, pay the necessary fees and meet the other state’s character and fitness requirements. In addition, most UBE states require an additional local component to be completed before, or soon after, becoming admitted to practice law.

BARBRI KNOWS THE UBE, SINCE ITS INCEPTION

BARBRI has been preparing students for each of the components of the UBE since their inception: 1972 for the MBE, 1988 for the MEE and 1997 for the MPT. The BARBRI bar review course in each state is uniquely tailored to the needs of the bar exam, accommodating the subtle grading differences among UBE states.

Click here for more information about the UBE.

Taking two bar exams (simultaneously)

By Dale Larrimore,
BARBRI Regional Vice President

Can I take two bar exams this summer? We often hear this question at this time of year. The lawyerly answer is: “It depends.”

There are two factors that control whether you sit for two different bar exams in the same week. First, you have to determine on which day each state administers its essay exam. Second, you have to find out if one of the states will accept a transferred Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) score from a concurrent exam.

KNOW THE EXACT DATES FOR BOTH STATES

The MBE is always given on the last Wednesday in February and July. Most states administer essay exams on the Tuesday before the MBE. Three states administer essays on the Thursday after the MBE – Massachusetts, New Jersey and Wyoming. So if you want to take two bar exams at the same time, you have to combine a Tuesday/Wednesday exam with the exam in one of these three states.

For example, many students take the New York bar exam on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then travel to New Jersey for Thursday. Other popular combinations include Pennsylvania/New Jersey or Pennsylvania/Massachusetts.

CONSIDER GEOGRAPHY TO AVOID FATIGUE

There are many other combinations that you could consider like Alabama/Massachusetts, yet keep in mind that geography and fatigue can work against you.

Using this example – to sit for Alabama and Massachusetts – here’s what your schedule would look like on bar exam week:

Monday: Three hours of Alabama Civil Procedure exams

Tuesday: Six hours of MBE and Multistate Performance Test

Wednesday: Six hours of MBE, then travel to Massachusetts

Thursday: Six hours of Massachusetts Essay Exam

As you can imagine, it’s much easier to travel from New York to New Jersey than from Alabama to Massachusetts, especially after three days of the bar exam.

MAKE SURE YOUR MBE SCORE WILL BE ACCEPTED

Once you figure out whether the dates will work for the two states you choose, you next have to determine whether one of the states will accept an MBE score from an exam administered in another state. This list includes:

  • Arizona
  • Connecticut
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oklahoma
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Utah

FINALLY, HOW HARD IS IT TO PASS TWO STATE BARS

In some states, like New Jersey, little knowledge of state law is required. In others, like Massachusetts, a significant amount of state law is required to be successful on the essay exam.

There are obviously many factors to consider when deciding whether or not to take two bar exams at once. The good news is that BARBRI has helped thousands of students pass two bar exams simultaneously. We have specifically tailored study programs that highlight key differences between the two states and make learning law in two states not significantly harder than learning one.