The biggest obstacle to lawyers exercising their Constitutional right to move from state to state and practice their chosen profession is undoubtedly the bar exam.
Most are state specific and if you want to practice law in a new state you usually either have to take the new state’s bar exam or have practiced for several years.
There is a movement, however, toward a “Uniform Bar Exam” that would have uniform scoring and be accepted from state to state. At least 10 states are expected to switch to the UBE next year and 22 additional jurisidictions are “positioned” to adopt it in the next several years, The National Law Journal reports.
But that’s where the good news seems to end; New York, California, Florida and Texas have yet to sign on and leaving out those states leaves out a whole lot of attorneys.
States are, of course, concerned about giving up their licensing autonomy and are worried about the lack of testing of state law. By necessity, the UBE will focus on federal law.
The Law Journal notes that any state accepting the uniform test is a shift in the industry. But so far everything is “unofficial” and preliminary — no state has officially adopted the UBE. Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri and North Dakota have expressed “vocal support” for a uniform bar.
The UBE would include the 200-question multi-state bar exam (already used by 48 states), a multistate performance test and a multistate essay exam.
Having taken the Texas bar exam in 2004 and the New York bar exam in 2007, we’ll admit our bias here and say we are all for a uniform exam. Our whole-hearted approval will not, however, make it happen any faster. Any movement is this arena is good movement, but this seems like something we’ll be watching for a long, long time.
The National Law Journal’s article, which provides more detail on which states are doing what, is here.
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