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Once in a Blue Moon, we get good news: Kentucky adopts the UBE

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Uniform Bar Exam

This has not been a good year for news about the bar exam. And the past 30 days has been an especially bad month for those of you following this topic.

Three weeks ago, Michigan’s online bar exam was hit with a denial of service attack, preventing takers from logging in and throwing the timing of the day off for many. Nevada and Indiana both had to postpone their online bar exams due to technology issues.

In Colorado, an in-person test taker at the University of Denver tested positive for COVID-19 a day after the test, prompting a round of contact tracing. The individual was asymptomatic and passed two temperature checks.

Then we come to today’s news from Florida, which canceled its August 19 online bar exam due to technical problems. The ABA Journal’s Stephanie Francis Ward writes, “In May, Florida announced plans for an in-person July bar. That exam was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. On July 1, the state supreme court released plans for an August online exam.”

So if you’re a bar prepper, you might be on your second or third time of starting the study cycle with your testing aid of choice, sometimes doing so as you’re reaching the light at the end of the tunnel. Job offers have been delayed or rescinded. And what is normally a shared rite of passage over the course of one week is now stretching into the fall, with a hint of uncertainty of when or if your bar exam will happen.

Basically, this was the past three weeks for legal test takers and the person who has to update our bar exam changes page:

This Is Fine

Even the LSAT did not go unaffected, with scores being lost due to a transmission issue.

That’s not to say August has been completely devoid of good news. California lowered its cut score by 49 points, although the California Supreme Court declined to apply the change retroactively.

At the ABA’s Annual Meeting, the ABA House of Delegates adopted Resolution 10G, encouraging jurisdictions to defer in-person bar exams during pandemic and develop alternate plans to license candidates. It also pushes for states with remote bar exams complete online platform testing “sufficiently in advance” of the test date and provide reasonable accommodations, including for test-takers who are caregivers and individuals who lack quiet spaces and reliable internet connections.

And while changes in bar exam administration means not everyone will receive a portable score in this round of tests, there’s some Kentucky-fried finger-lickin’ goodness on the horizon from the Bluegrass State. It crossed our radar via @BarExamTracker, which has been doing a bang-up job of keeping JDs apprised of state-by-state exam changes and diploma-privilege chatter.

Yes, Kentucky, which will be administering its online bar exam from October 5-6 (which will give this year’s examinees a portable score via reciprocity agreements with DC, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Tennessee, Vermont, Connecticut, Ohio, New Hampshire, Oregon and Illinois), announced it will be adopting the Uniform Bar Exam for the February 2021 in-person test.

Kentucky Flag

Or, you know, whenever its deemed safe to take a bar exam in person again.

But at this point, we here at #UBEWatch will take whatever good news we can pass on to law grads.

As you look at the map, there’s a few things Kentucky being filled gives us:

  • Yes, Virginia, you are surrounded.
Surrounded

Oklahoma and South Dakota are also non-UBE enclaves in the USA, with all of its neighboring states accepting the portable-score test. Good portability scores make good neighbors!

  • Bonus fun Virginia fact: Virginia and Pennsylvania are the remaining two commonwealth states who have not adopted the UBE, now that Kentucky has made its choice. Massachusetts is the fourth commonwealth state, going UBE in March 2018.
  • Contiguous, with an asterisk: If it weren’t for the Toledo War, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan might be part of Wisconsin. It also factors into the debate over which of the two states looks more like a mitten. So with that weird little bit of geography, and as the Hoosier State debates adoption, the biggest bunch of bordering non-UBE states is the Wisconsin-Michigan-Indiana triad—now that Kentucky has cut itself and Virginia out of that particular quintet.
  • SEC scoreboard: Since college football may not happen this year, let’s also point out that we’re now past the halfway mark of SEC schools that accept the UBE score. The remaining holdouts are Louisiana and Mississippi from the SEC West and Georgia and Florida from the SEC East.

Stay tuned for more Uniform Bar Exam news as it comes to us. And stay safe out there!

Special thanks to UBE OG Chris Jennison for passing along the news.

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