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A joyful Illinois: Look who just helped the Uniform Bar Exam hit the big 3-0

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Uniform Bar Exam

In November 2016, #UBEWatch went to the West Loop to hear testimony on why Illinois should adopt the Uniform Bar Exam. One of the speakers was an ABA Law Student Division Board member, our 7th Circuit governor, Northern Illinois University College of Law Sandra Gallant-Jones, who was then a 2L.

It prompted us to ask the question: Could Illinois be next for the Uniform Bar Exam? And then we waited for an answer.

And we waited.

And waited.

And we got the answer to that question: No, Illinois was next. Four states – Maine, North Carolina, Maryland, and Tennessee – all beat the ABA’s home state to the punch. Even the U.S. Virgin Islands entered the UBE roster! We don’t have a board either – we switched to a council, and we no longer have circuit governors. And Sandy’s got her JD.

But over the weekend, the waiting ended. Illinois will start administering the UBE in July 2019. The announcement reads:

“With a majority of jurisdictions in the United States now administering the Uniform Bar Exam, the time seemed right to adapt to a legal landscape that demands more flexibility and recognizes multi-jurisdictional practice,” Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier said. “The switch to a portable bar examination acknowledges the changing reality while maintaining Illinois’ high standard of legal competency.”

In 2016, the Illinois Board of Admission to the Bar held public hearings in Springfield, Carbondale and Chicago to provide information on the UBE to those in attendance and to receive comments from individuals, organizations and entities interested in voicing their opinions on whether the UBE should be adopted and to answer questions. The comments received were overwhelmingly supportive of the change. Also in 2016, the Illinois State Bar Association Board and Assembly issued recommendations that the Illinois Supreme Court adopt the UBE.

“The Illinois Board of Admissions to the Bar and its staff are humbled, honored, and privileged to serve the Illinois Supreme Court, the members of the bench and bar, and the public. In fulfilling its responsibilities, the Board studied and ultimately recommended the adoption of the Uniform Bar Examination in Illinois,” said Randy K. Johnson, Vice President and Treasurer of the Illinois Board of Admissions to the Bar. “It is evident that the practice of law is more mobile than it once was. Multi-jurisdictional and cross-border practice is now needed to effectively serve the public. The Board is pleased that Illinois will join the other UBE jurisdictions in meeting this need. The Board gratefully acknowledges the support of the Court along with the tireless efforts of all involved, especially past members of the Board. Adoption of the UBE in Illinois – The Land of Lincoln – is a significant positive for bar applicants which will protect and promote the public trust.”

Unfortunately, if you’re studying for next month’s Illinois bar exam, you’re juuuust a little early. And you probably just made this face.

Sandy, for her part, has this to say:

FINALLY! Thank you, Supreme Court of Illinois! Illinois’ adoption of the UBE is terrific news for law students, because it opens up so many opportunities. More importantly, Illinois’ adoption of the UBE should be seen as an invitation for lawyers outside of the state to consider the Land of Lincoln. With the ABA’s headquarters in Chicago, it shouldn’t be any surprise why Illinois has one of the strongest legal communities in the nation. The Illinois Supreme Court’s decision ensures Illinois’ newest attorneys will be highly competent and more diverse for those seeking legal advocacy.

Good luck to all of you taking the bar, both here and across the nation – we’re rooting for ya!

ABA Law Student Division The Law Student Division empowers law student by providing them with meaningful connections to practicing professionals, job resources, relevant programming, and practical skills competitions. We represent the law student community by advocating for policies that improve legal education, champion diversity, and strengthen public service.