Earlier this year, Illinois opened the floor for public comment on the adoption of the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE). As expected, many responded, both positively and negatively on the matter. However, as the comment period came to a close at the beginning of December, the Illinois State Bar Association Assembly sounded off on the issue.
At this year’s ISBA Midyear Meeting, the ISBA Assembly voted in favor of adopting the UBE here in Illinois, unanimously.
This however comes with some additional recommendations by the ISBA Standing Committee on Legal Education, Admission and Competence on the Adoption of the Uniform Bar Examination to protect the integrity of the process.
For example, one of the most popular critiques is that the UBE doesn’t guarantee lawyers have a complete understanding of Illinois-specific law. Thus, the ISBA Standing Committee advised there be a state-specific component to the exam. In their mind, the additional multistate performance test (MPT) would help ensure attorneys have this knowledge when practicing in Illinois. If not the MPT, the Standing Committee also offered up the incorporation of a separate course or essay examination similar to that currently in place, but at a separate time and place than the UBE. In addition to this, the Court could also amend the current Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) requirements to include more education focused on Illinois-specific substantive law and procedure for newly admitted attorneys and/or those seeking admission on motion.
If the Court does adopt the UBE in Illinois, the Standing Committee recommends that they accept transferred UBE scores for up to three years after the score has been earned. All in all, the ISBA Assembly believes adopting the UBE recognizes the fact that lawyers and their practices are no longer geographically static.
Aside from the adoption of the UBE, the ISBA Assembly considered a number of other provisions at its December meeting, including the approval of the futures report and collaborative law. The ISBA also reviewed the adoption of ABA Model Rule 8.4(g), opposing its recommendation in Illinois.
As the profession continues to evolve, so too will the practices here in Illinois. As these and many more changes come our way, the Commission on Professionalism is here to inform lawyers and the public.