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Several States Move Closer to National Bar Exam

Posted Nov 23, 2009 2:49 PM CDT
By Rachel M. Zahorsky

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The debate for a uniform bar exam heats up as more jurisdictions consider the adoption of a single exam and scoring system that would be accepted from state to state.

Missouri bar officials say they could offer the first national exam as early as 2010, USA Today reports. Jurisdictions also considering the idea include Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Washington, D.C.

Proponents of the uniform exam cite decreased consumer expenses in multistate litigation and greater job mobility for law school graduates burdened with debt and faced with a tight job market. Often students have to decide where they're going to take the bar before they even have a job offer, Erica Moeser, president of the National Conference of Bar Examiners, told USA Today.

The national format also “levels the playing field” and could address concerns about bias against historically underrepresented groups in admission to the bar, said Micah Yarbrough, director of bar programs at Widener University School of Law in Wilmington, Delaware.

However, Delaware bar officials are not anticipating any changes to its bar exam in 2010, the story reports. New York and California officials have also voiced reservations about the proposal, according to Moeser.

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