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Does the Uniform Bar Exam Dumb Down Lawyers?

The Bar Exam
By William Vogeler, Esq. on April 03, 2019 11:04 AM

It's not really fair to doubt the quality of new lawyers today, just because they didn't take the same bar exam as the last generation.

But maybe it is fair to doubt the bar exam -- and law schools -- because there's definitely a problem. Many in the profession say new attorneys don't have a clue about how to practice law.

Of course, that's always been a problem. Now the question is, does the Uniform Bar Exam dumb down lawyers?

Uniform Bar Exam

As law schools lowered admission standards, bar exam results took a nose dive across the country. Some states had adopted the Uniform Bar Exam, and now authorities are wondering if that's the problem.

In New York, the state bar association has created a task force to study the issue. Appellate Justice Alan Scheinkman will chair the study group. "We're not certain there is a problem," he said. "We're not certain there isn't a problem. We're trying to find out about it."

However, it's not a mystery to New York Supreme Court Justice Barry Ostrager. He says it's "unfathomable" that new lawyers don't have the "most basic knowledge" to practice law in New York.

Law School Courses

The underlying problem seems to be that no one knows if it's the UBE, the MBE, or the quality of legal education itself.

According to reports, less than 20 percent of students at New York law schools take state law practice courses. In the past, that number was as high as 80 to 90 percent.

"Is there a little similarity there?" Uncle Buck would say. Of course, he was talking about another kind of problem that was bugging him.

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