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#UBEWatch: Jersey Shore edition

Uniform Bar Exam

Our resident Uniform Bar Exam watch correspondent Chris Jennison informs us today that New Jersey will join the list of states accepting the test starting next February.

Here’s the pertinent content from the New Jersey Courts’ press release:

Following the recommendation of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Uniform Bar Examination, the Court has determined to adopt the UBE as a replacement for New Jersey’s existing bar examination format, beginning with the February 2017 administration of the exam. New Jersey joins 21 jurisdictions that have already adopted the UBE.

The UBE is a standardized test drafted by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), and is uniformly administered, graded, and scored in participating jurisdictions. The UBE consists of three components: the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), a multiple choice exam; the Multistate Essay Examination, comprised of six essay questions testing law of general application; and the Multistate Performance Test, comprised of two writing tasks designed to test practical lawyering skills. The Court determined that the UBE is a well-written examination that fairly assesses the required minimum competence to practice law.

Applicants who take the UBE earn a portable score that can be transferred to other UBE jurisdictions including New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Washington, D.C., among others, for a set period of time for the purpose of applying for admission in those other jurisdictions. The Court found substantial value in the UBE’s score portability, which is expected to benefit not only New Jersey applicants and their families, by allowing greater mobility among recent law graduates, but also the public, through the provision of increased legal resources in currently under-served areas. Score portability also will help alleviate the considerable financial strain facing applicants who currently sit for multiple bar examinations.

Notably, adopting the UBE does not diminish the Supreme Court’s supervisory role over attorney admissions or the standards required of New Jersey attorneys. The step taken by the Court today simply replaces the current mechanism to assess the required minimum competence to practice law with another format. The content covered by the UBE and the current New Jersey bar examination is aligned; the current examination does not contain a New Jersey-specific component that will be lost by adopting the UBE. Consistent with the Committee’s findings, the Court concluded that transitioning to the UBE will bestow considerable benefits and uphold New Jersey’s high standards for attorney licensure.

John Louros, who will be taking over as Law Student Representative to the Board of Governors from Chris, also testified in front of the New Jersey courts on the Uniform Bar Exam.

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