As the calendar turns to 2020, the ABA Law Student Division was waiting for a sign, any sign, that indicated one of the remaining 16 holdout states would consider adopting the Uniform Bar Exam.
It’s been 8 months since last we heard from a jurisdiction when Arkansas joined the ranks of UBE states. That left the largest cluster of non-UBE states as a wide path from Wisconsin to Virginia.
According to a message we got today, that might all change.
Faithful reader and contributor (as well as the genesis behind of one of our favorite blog posts) Otto Stockmeyer informs us that Indiana received a recommendation to adopt the Uniform Bar Exam from its Study Commission on the Future of the Indiana Bar Exam last month.
The recommendation of their panel to employ the Multistate Essay Examination instead of the six-question Indiana Essay Examination would allow “newly minted lawyers to transfer their scores to other UBE jurisdictions, enhancing career opportunities for younger lawyers and recruiting options for Indiana law firms, businesses, and government agencies.”
Our recent use of multi-state instruments has already given Indiana a more reliable testing system, and this new arrangement will allow portability that fits the way modern American lawyers practice law. The Indiana State Board of Law Examiners unanimously recommends this reform.
To assure that new lawyers admitted to the Indiana bar understand elements of Indiana’s laws that differ from those of other states, we recommend creating an Indiana-focused experience separate from the existing two-day examinations. Indiana applicants should be required to accomplish this element no later than within six months of passing the bar examination.
Bonus for all you future Hoosier State lawyers—the adoption would reduce the number of subjects on the test from 18 to 12.
The commission wasn’t unanimous—three members objected. Comments are being accepted through Feb. 3 on the commission’s recommendations.
The Indiana Lawyer examined UBE adoption (Illinois and Ohio) and non-adoption (Michigan and Kentucky) by its neighbor states. And Professor Stockmeyer had this to add in the article:
Much to the frustration of Otto Stockmeyer, professor emeritus at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, the Wolverine State appears to have no plans to even consider adopting the UBE. Currently the state’s bar exam consists of 15 Michigan-specific essay questions and the MBE, but the law professor believes the UBE would be an improvement.
“The UBE may not be the be-all-and-end-all, but it is today’s gold standard,” Stockmeyer said. “If (the other states that have adopted the UBE) all feel this is the best way to measure minimum legal competency, why aren’t we looking at it?”
His “modest goal” is for Michigan’s supreme court to appoint a commission to study the Uniform Bar Exam as an option.
As for Indiana, who knows how soon after early February a decision might come? But adopting the UBE would mean that we’d be left with just a bunch of neighboring state duos:
- Wisconsin and Michigan would be one cut off pair of non-UBE mittens.
- Kentucky and Virginia would be the other half left from the formerly five-state-long swatch.
- California and Nevada.
- Louisiana and Mississippi.
- Florida and Georgia.
- Pennsylvania and Delaware.
In the “Totally Surrounded, What Are You Waiting For Category,” there’s still Oklahoma and South Dakota.
The remaining jurisdictions—Hawaii and the Pacific territories as well as Puerto Rico—round out the holdouts.