LAWRENCE – Graduates of the University of Kansas School of Law will soon have another competitive advantage in the national legal employment market as Kansas rolls out its adoption of the Uniform Bar Examination.
Beginning in February 2016, Kansas will join 14 other states in using the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) to test who may practice law in their jurisdiction. In most ways the UBE is like any bar exam, testing legal knowledge and skills essential to being a good lawyer. The main difference is that someone who takes the UBE in Kansas can transfer their score to any other UBE jurisdiction and be admitted without having to sit for another bar exam, and vice versa.
Recent graduates who already took the UBE in Missouri, Colorado, Nebraska, or any other UBE jurisdiction can begin submitting their scores for admission to the Kansas bar in late April.
“This change allows KU Law graduates taking the bar exam in Kansas to rapidly be admitted to practice in 15 jurisdictions, making them more marketable, expanding the jobs they have to consider, and reducing the significant time and expense of preparing for multiple bar exams,” said Arturo Thompson, assistant dean of career services.
“If you’re practicing in Kansas, it means that you don’t have to stop assisting your clients because they want to do a deal in Colorado or they were sued in Missouri. It is even more essential in a market like Kansas City, where nearly every lawyer has matters that cross State Line Road.”
While all states administer the same core exam under the UBE, some may have additional requirements for licensure, including a minimum score or a practical skills exam. As of March 2015, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming have all adopted the UBE.
Although Kansas won’t begin administering the exam for another year, KU law students and recent graduates are excited about taking advantage of this major change.
“I was so thrilled to find out about the UBE adoption. I was able to stop studying for the bar and focus on the next steps in my career,” said Chris Omlid, a 2012 KU law graduate who worked for the Missouri State Public Defender System for two years but recently relocated to Wichita. “This rule change means I am one gigantic step closer to continuing my dream of practicing indigent defense in Kansas.”
KU law officials are pleased about the flexibility and breadth of employment opportunities the new exam format will make available for its students.
“KU Law has been part of a team of lawyers, judges, faculty and schools that advocated strongly for this move as a way to better support our current and future students while still ensuring Kansas maintains its high standards,” Thompson said. “We’re grateful to the Kansas Supreme Court for their leadership in adopting the exam and look forward to opportunities it brings.”