New York State Bar Association Calls for State To Withdraw From the Uniform Bar Exam

By Susan DeSantis

New York State Bar Association Calls for State To Withdraw From the Uniform Bar Exam

NYSBA Task Force Reviews Uniform Bar Exam

The (NYSBA) Task Force on the New York Bar Exam is recommending that the state withdraw from the Uniform Bar Exam and develop its own bar admissions test so that attorneys have a better understanding of state law before being admitted to practice.

The task force’s recommendations were approved June 12 at a meeting of the association’s governing body, the House of Delegates.

“This would ensure that New York’s legal system would continue to be a national leader,” said NYSBA President T. Andrew Brown. “The task force recommendations outline a smart and achievable strategy for how the bar exam can be transformed to make sure newly admitted lawyers have a comprehensive grounding in New York law.”

NYSBA is calling on the New York Court of Appeals to appoint a working group that would, in conjunction with the Board of Law Examiners, develop a New York Bar Examination that is fair and equitable and encourages the study of New York law.

“The UBE places a premium on subject matter that new lawyers do not use,” said former Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department, Alan D. Scheinkman, who chaired the task force. “As a result, law schools teach students material that they won’t need while failing to spend time on the issues young lawyers will encounter in their early years of practice.”

The report also recommends providing two alternative means to admissions:

  • A pathway through concentrated study of New York law while in law school
  • A pathway through supervised practice of law in New York combined with law school achievements

Since 2015, attorneys aspiring to practice in New York State have taken the UBE, which is now administered in 35 states and the District of Columbia. In January of 2021, the National Conference of Bar Examiners, which created the UBE, called for replacing it with a new test that deemphasizes major aspects of state law. The proposed examination would no longer test family law, trusts and estates, secured transactions, and conflicts of laws.

The task force’s mandate was to “investigate and report on the impact of New York’s adoption of the UBE on applicants, potential employers, and the court system.” Its initial report was approved by the House of Delegates in April of 2020. NYSBA’s Immediate Past President Scott M. Karson asked the task force to continue to develop its recommendations during his term, which began in June of 2020.

About the New York State Bar Association
The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, the association has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.

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Contact: Susan DeSantis
[email protected]
201-575-5756

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