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Law Grads Greatly Favor Uniform Bar Exam

By William Vogeler, Esq. on January 04, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In a difficult job market, a vast majority of prospective attorneys want states to adopt a uniform bar exam.

According to a new Kaplan survey, ninety-one percent of law students favor a bar exam that is the same across the board. Virtually all of them say it's because they want more options about where they can practice law.

Half the states have adopted a national test. Four of the largest states -- California, Florida, Illinois, and Texas -- have not. Part of the reason for the difference between the states is the difference in their test standards.

Different Results

New York adopted a uniform bar exam in 2015. The results? An uptick of 3%. New Mexico, no so much; it dropped by 8%.

"There are a lot of variables for why a state's bar passage rate may rise or fall after the UBE is adopted," said Tammi Rice, vice president and general manager, Kaplan Bar Review. "In some states, the UBE is actually harder than the state-specific bar exam was, but in some states it's not as challenging."

Since the survey, three more states are considering the move towards nationalization. Illinois, Maine, and North Carolina would bring the jurisdictional total to 29, including Washington, D.C.

Announcing the overwhelming preference of law students to have a uniform bar exam, Rice said law schools strive to ensure their students are prepared to pass the bar exam wherever they may choose to work. A school's bar passage rate also counts towards rankings, she said.

Some 89% of the survey respondents said a national exam provides more job portability; 38 percent said it's easier to prepare for a uniform exam and 16 percent said the national exam is easier.

The jurisdictions that have adopted the national test are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

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