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What Law Students Need to Know About the Texas Bar Exam

What Law Students Need to Know About the Texas Bar Exam

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  • Student Tips
Joanna HughesJan 22, 2019

Many law students have their heads so deeply buried in legal tomes and case studies at this time of year that they barely have time to come up for breath. Unfortunately, this can interfere with them keeping up on current events, including those that directly affect them. Case in point? The Texas Supreme Court’s recent approval of a recommendation to replace the existing Texas bar exam with the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE). Here’s what you need to know, as reported by Texas Lawyer.

What to Expect

The switch to the UBE, which will occur in February 2021, means test-takers will now be able to transfer their scores to other states which offer the UBE. In addition to the perk of reciprocity, the UBE covers fewer topics and includes fewer essay questions than the current exam.

Texas A&M University School of Law associate dean of academic support, bar passage and compliance, James McGrath, says “I think it’s a more manageable list of subjects to have to study post-graduation.”

Benefits Abound

“The UBE allows lawyers to move between states without spending the time and money needed to take multiple bar exams. This is advantageous for new law school graduates who wish to look for employment in more than one state -- including both Texans who wish to move to other states, and those from other states who wish to practice law here,” said the May 2018 Task Force on the Texas Bar Examination report.

Texas joins 34 other US jurisdictions in moving to the UBE, including Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington state, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Wyoming, and the US Virgin Islands.

Many states do include state-specific law courses and exams to supplement the UBE. Individual states also maintain responsibility for admission requirements regarding passing scores.

But getting the word out about the change is critical, according to Femi Aborisade, who heads up the University of Texas at Austin School of Law's student bar association. “Most law students are so focused on the normal day-to-day of law school that they don’t pay much attention to the bar exam. They must know the bar exam is hard and they’ll have to take it one day,” he says.

Joanna Hughes

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.