A Letter from the President of The New York County Lawyers' Association

2015-03-19 09:34

To The Readers of the Metropolitan Corporate Counsel:

You may have heard about New York’s efforts to move away from the current examination and toward the Unified Bar Examination (UBE). There are mixed opinions about whether or not this is a smart move by New York State; the New York County Lawyers' Association has examined the proposal to determine the effect that the potential adoption of the exam by the state would have on future and current lawyers and the public.

NYCLA found several arguments in favor of moving to the Uniform Bar Exam, but at the same time we found many concerns that should be studied during the next year to determine if this the most effective course to take permanently. The adoption of a UBE would allow more resources to be devoted to constructing questions; the portability of UBE scores would allow exam‐takers to transfer to other states; and younger lawyers would benefit as the legal world becomes increasingly national and global.   

Concerns about the switch to the UBE include the impact on the public of adoption of the UBE in the 15 states that have currently adopted it; the costs and fees that would be imposed for administration of the UBE in New York, when compared to the modest $250 current cost of the examination for first-time takers; and the need for further study of possible disparate impact of the change on minorities, indigent examination takers, and graduates of foreign law schools. In particular, under the proposal, all takers must pass a one-hour 50-question multiple choice test on New York law. NYCLA questions whether dependence on a high‐speed multiple choice component for state law disproportionately disadvantages members of certain groups.

After analyzing the proposed adoption of the UBE by New York State, NYCLA issued a Report on the New York Uniform Bar Exam Proposal, which contains these findings and explained how reasonable arguments can be made for and against the adoption of the UBE. NYCLA recommended a one‐year study period during which these arguments can be fully assessed. If New York immediately adopts the UBE, NYCLA recommended that studies be conducted after adoption. 

This is one example of the important work done by the Association and its members. I urge you to join the Association if you’re not already a member to get involved in our efforts. You can learn more about NYCLA and the benefits of membership at www.nycla.org/joinus.

Please email me at ltesser@tesserryan.com or tweet me @NYCLAPres and let me know how NYCLA can work for you.


Lew Tesser