NYSBA Task Force Reviews Uniform Bar Exam
The New York State Bar Association’s Task Force on the New York Bar Examination will hold four public hearings across the state this fall, as they continue to review New York’s adoption of the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE).
The task force, jointly created by President Hank Greenberg and immediate past NYSBA President Michael Miller, was established to investigate and report on the experience and impact of the state’s May 2015 adoption of the UBE and to make recommendations as to the future content and form of the New York bar exam.
“New York law has long been the gold standard in American jurisprudence,” NYSBA President Hank Greenberg said. “The bar exam should play an important role in ensuring that newly admitted lawyers appreciate the importance of New York law, and have an appropriate grounding in it.”
The UBE is a standardized bar exam created by the National Conference of Bar Examiners and is designed to test knowledge and skills that every lawyer should have before becoming licensed to practice law. UBE scores can be transferred to seek admission in other UBE jurisdictions.
The task force is co-chaired by Eileen D. Millett, co-head of environmental litigation at Phillips Nizer, and Presiding Justice Alan D. Scheinkman, of the Appellate Division for the Second Judicial Department.
To date, the task force has heard from national experts on bar exam licensing, who addressed such topics as whether or not the exam measures minimal competence, emphasizes lawyering skills, should be broken into parts over more than a few days, should utilize more writing and less multiple choice, and offer additional methods of simulation.
This fall, the task force will hear from more leading experts in the field, including from the deans of New York’s 15 law schools, since they are essential stakeholders in the testing process. The task force and other experts also plan an in-depth study of the multistate exams, as well as the New York Law Course (NYLC) and New York Law Exam (NYLE) portions of the New York bar exam.
The task force has formed five subcommittees that are directing their attention to examining the efficacy of early administration of the bar exam; gauging applicants’ views of the NYLE portion of the exam; and collecting statistical data, such as the percentage of graduates who go directly into practice, those who apply for admission in New York but do not practice in the state, and whether or not the percentage of New York law graduates obtaining employment in the state has fallen since UBE adoption.
The task force will commence hearings around the state, with the first public hearing on Oct. 4, in Rochester. That hearing will be livestreamed from the New York Appellate Division Fourth Department Ceremonial Courthouse.
On Oct. 21, in Mineola, the task force will livestream from the Nassau County Bar Association and on Oct. 25, in Albany, the task force will livestream its hearing from Albany Law School. The final livestreamed public hearing will take place on Nov. 18, in Manhattan at the New York County Lawyers Association.
The task force will present a report with recommendations based on their investigation at the NYSBA House of Delegates meeting in April 2020.
For more information about the task force, please visit www.nysba.org/barexam.