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Michigan Supreme Court Adopts the Uniform Bar Examination

By Matthew J. Franson posted 10-25-2021 09:24

  

On October 13, 2021, the Michigan Supreme Court adopted the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE). Pending the adoption of required legislation, the first test will be administered in July 2022. Michigan will join approximately 39 other jurisdictions that now administer the UBE.

The UBE allows a candidate’s test score to transfer between states that have adopted the exam, eliminating the need to study for and pass state-specific tests. Each state has a minimum passing score, ranging from 260 up to 280 (out of 400 possible points). Michigan’s minimum passing score has not yet been determined. The candidate must still get the state’s character and fitness stamp of approval before being admitted to practice in the state.

The UBE consists of (1) the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), (2) the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE), and (3) two Multistate Performance Test items (MPT). Michigan’s current bar exam tests 16 subjects, whereas the UBE tests 12.

In addition to the UBE, under new Rule 3a, Michigan may require applicants to take a Michigan Law Component course and provide proof of completion. This applies to both UBE applicants and applicants seeking admission without examination (those practicing in another state for at least three years and licensed in that state for five years).

Under Rule 4a(A)(2), an applicant may transfer a UBE score if the score meets or exceeds the state’s minimum required score, the score was achieved on a UBE administered within the three years immediately preceding the UBE in Michigan for which the individual would otherwise sit, the applicant passed the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examinations, and the applicant has successfully completed any Michigan Law Component. The wording of this rule is a change from the proposed rules that initially stated that a candidate could not transfer a UBE score achieved before July 2022, a restriction that sparked several comments.

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12-16-2021 09:26

On December 15, 2021, the Michigan Supreme Court revised its October 13 order adopting the UBE. The rule changes, previously set to take effect March 1, 2022, are now effective August 1, 2022. The administration of the first test, previously set for July 2022, will now be administered in February 2023. The December 15 order states: “[the] target date was predicated on two things: enactment of accompanying legislation and implementation of a Michigan law component in the examination itself. Neither of those things have occurred, thus, requiring a deferment in the implementation of the UBE in Michigan.”