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Which profession is moving closer to a uniform licensing exam?

When a person makes the momentous decision to pursue a law degree, they are committing themselves to a rigorous and often stressful three-year academic window.

As difficult as earning a law degree can be, the next step arguably isn’t much easier, as many graduates decide to sit for the bar exam. That’s because this marathon test session, designed to gauge whether a person is fit to practice law in a particular state, demands hours of intense preparations covering both general legal principles and specific state laws.

In light of this reality, many licensed attorneys opt to take the bar exam only one time, preferring the rigors of building a career in a single state to the rigors of studying to pass the bar exam in another state.

While this is understandable, it’s also somewhat limiting, say experts, as attorneys — particularly those just out of school — are effectively chained to a single state.

Interestingly enough, both attorneys and recent graduates from law school now have another option on the table: the Uniform Bar Exam.

As implied by the name, the UBE is a legal examination that tests on general legal principles as opposed to state specific laws, and is portable in that passage grants a person the right to practice in other UBE states.

The only catch, however, is that the UBE, launched in 2011, has only been adopted by 16 states, including Minnesota, North Dakota and, most recently, New York.   

Proponents of the exam argue, however, that this will likely change very soon in light of New York’s recent adoption of the UBE, as the populous state frequently serves as a legal trendsetter for the rest of the U.S.

While these proponents contend that the UBE is cheaper for the states to administer and enhances job prospects via increased mobility, critics argue that it still won’t do much to change the undeniably difficult job market faced by recent law graduates.

However you may feel about the UBE, it raises some very interesting questions. For instance, could such an approach to testing and licensure be expanded to other professions like medicine, dentistry or nursing? If so, would this be a good idea?

What are your thoughts?

If you are a licensed professional who has encountered any sort of difficulty with a licensing authority, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible to learn more about protecting your livelihood. 

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