Building a Better Bar Exam

72 Pages


In the wake of declining bar passage numbers and limited placement options for law grads, a new bar exam has emerged: the UBE. Drawn to an allusive promise of portability, thirty-six U.S. jurisdictions have adopted the UBE. I predict that in a few years’ time, the UBE will be administered in all states and U.S. territories. The UBE has snowballed from an idea into the primary gateway for entry into the practice of law. But the UBE is not a panacea that will solve the bar passage problems that U.S. law schools face. Whether or not to adopt a uniform exam is no longer the question. Now that the UBE has firmly taken root, the question to be answered is: “What can be done to make sure that the UBE does less harm than good?”

This Article will, in four parts, examine the meteoric rise and spread of the UBE and the potential costs of its quick adoption. Part I will survey the gradual move away from state law exams to the jurisdictionally neutral UBE. Part II will identify correlations between recent changes to the multistate exams and a stark national decline in bar passage rates. Part III will address the limitations of the UBE, including the misleading promise of score portability and the consequences of forum shopping. Part IV will propose additional measures that can coexist with the UBE to counterbalance its limitations to make a better bar exam for law graduates and the clients they will serve.

Suggested Citation:

Marsha Griggs, Building a Better Bar Exam, 7 Tex. A&M L. Rev. 1 (2019).
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