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Performing some overdue Maine-tenance on our UBE watch map

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Uniform Bar Exam

Two weeks from today, the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar will be hosting a webinar on the UBE called “The Uniform Bar Exam: Where Are We Now and Where Are We Headed?” If you haven’t registered yet, feel free to do so. We’ll give you a minute …

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In preparing for the webinar, we here at BTB realized something – we had neglected our map coloring duties over the winter.

In late January, Maine became the 26th state (and 27th jurisdiction) to adopt the UBE. So now we’re up to date, and past the halfway mark of states that recognize a transferable bar exam score.

Who will be next? We chatted with the North Carolina Bar Association in March during its Twitter town hall, and got this response on the progress of the UBE in that state:

The UBE had the approval of 59 percent of NCBA members who responded to a survey – you can see the results and some of the comments here. Here is the recommendation as listed in the North Carolina Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice’s 2017 report:

In October 2016, the North Carolina Board of Law Examiners recommended that North Carolina begin administering the Uniform Bar Examination, including the Multistate Performance Test, in 2019.7 The Board also recommended that North Carolina supplement the Uniform Bar Examination with North Carolina-specific components that will be specified in the future. To take effect, this recommendation will need the approval of the State Bar Council and the Supreme Court of North Carolina.

Or will it be Illinois? In January, the Illinois State Bar Association‘s board and assembly approved a committee recommendation that the Illinois Supreme Court also adopt the Uniform Bar Exam.

Those seem to be the most likely next states to color in on our map. Or could it be South Dakota or Rhode Island – two states surrounded by UBE states? Time will tell, and we’ll tell you when the next state court passes its approval.

Below is the text of the letter announcing the adoption of the UBE in Maine:


January 25, 2017

Jennifer Archer, Esq.
Board of Bar Examiners
40 Water Street
Hallowell, Maine 04347

Re: Adoption of the Uniform Bar Exam in Maine

Dear Ms. Archer:

I write to you in your capacity as the Chair of the Maine Board of Bar Examiners. I am pleased to inform the Board that, after consideration of the Report issued by the Advisory Commission on the Uniform Bar Examination and the public comments submitted in response to that Report, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court has decided to adopt the Uniform Bar Exam, effective with the July 2017 administration of the bar examination. The UBE will supplant both the full and modified Maine bar examination formats.

Accordingly, we ask that the Board of Bar Examiners draft and, by March 3, 2017, submit to the Court proposed amendments to the Bar Admission Rules that will implement the UBE in Maine.

The draft rules amendments should provide the following:

1. Effective with the July 2017 administration, the bar examination will consist of the full UBE and the MPRE. There will be no pre-admission or post-admission Maine-specific component implemented at this time;

2. Qualifying UBE scores may be transferred in support of an application for admission to the Maine Bar for no more than three years after the applicant takes the UBE, but from UBE administrations no earlier than July 2014;

3. For reciprocal admissions by motion, the practice requirement shall be for at least three out of five years rather than the current five years out of seven;

4. The fee to transfer a UBE score to Maine will be the same as for reciprocal admission by motion;

5. In order to monitor the impact of the UBE on various applicant subgroups, the bar admission application shall allow the applicant to provide information about how he or she identifies in those categories; and

6. The Board of Bar examiners shall have the responsibilities of monitoring research, reports, and the self-identifying information provided in applications for admission to the Maine Bar, to assess the potential impact of the UBE on different applicant subgroups.

The Board will currently retain the authority to set the passing score necessary to qualify the applicant for admission to the Maine Bar. As Justice Hjelm will discuss with you and the Board, however, the Court requests that the Board review the current passing score, particularly in light of the different passing scores used in other New England jurisdictions, and report to the Court the reasons for continuing any disparity between Maine and the majority of the New England states.

The Court also anticipates that the Board will participate on the National Conference of Bar Examiners’ UBE Committee, which includes a representative from each UBE jurisdiction.

On behalf of the Court, I send my gratitude to you, to the members of the Board, and to the members of the UBE Commission for all of the work on these issues as the Court implements the UBE. We very much appreciate the Board’s attention to these critical issues regarding the quality and preparedness of the Maine Bar.

Sincerely,

Leigh I. Saufley
Chief Justice

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