The New York State Board of Law Examiners (SBLE) and Court of Appeals approved some major changes to the New York Bar Exam. New York adopted the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) beginning with the July 2016 testing.
The UBE consists of (1) the Multistate Essay Examination comprised of six essays testing law of general application, (2) two Multistate Performance Tests, and (3) the Multistate Bar Examination. Additionally, New York examinees will be required to take an online course covering New York-specific law and achieve a score of at least 30 out of 50 on an online multiple choice exam testing the examinee's knowledge of New York law.
While I am 100% in favor of more states adopting a "uniform" bar exam experience to permit easier movement for attorneys to practice in the United States, I have serious reservations about the impending stampede by states to adopt the UBE.
For starters, the UBE gives the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) even more power over deciding whether or not you are fit to become a lawyer. Additionally, the New York online course sounds a lot like those DMV "driver improvement" courses designed to prevent you from receiving points on your driving record. I envision lots of cheating on the online New York test as well. To put it bluntly, I do not see how New York's adoption of the UBE and accompanying components demonstrates that someone is qualified to practice in New York any more than the old exam did.
Furthermore, the SBLE dismissed the notion brought up by some that the new format would disadvantage test-takers who are not white males. Hopefully, the SBLE will truly spend the next few years studying bar passage demographics to ensure that no group is disproportionately affected by the new format. One can only hope.
Your thoughts on this?
The SBLE's Executive Summary is available to download below: