In an order issued by the Kentucky Supreme Court on Friday, the commonwealth has joined the growing list of states adopting the Uniform Bar Exam, putting Indiana in an even smaller group of non-UBE jurisdictions.
Kentucky will be administering the UBE starting with the February 2021 exam. This will give graduates of Kentucky law schools the ability to sit for one bar exam and then apply to practice in multiple states. Likewise, it will allow applicants who pass the UBE in other states to seek admission to the Bluegrass bar.
“The Uniform Bar Examination will benefit law students by creating consistency in the subjects tested and maximizing job opportunities,” said Kentucky Justice Laurance VanMeter, as quoted by 101.3 WMSK-FM. “The UBE will also make Kentucky’s law schools more attractive to undergraduates who might not be sure which state they will practice in and make new lawyers more marketable to firms with multi-state practices.”
The Bluegrass State already had taken a step toward a multi-jurisdictional exam. Kentucky has entered into a reciprocity agreement that will allow applicants to the Commonwealth’s October 2020 remote bar exam to transport their scores to 10 other states including Ohio, Illinois and Tennessee, as well as the District of Columbia.
According to the National Conference of Bar Examiners, 12 states have not adopted the UBE. Indiana is among that group, but the Study Commission on the Future of the Indiana Bar Exam recommended in late 2019 the Hoosier state administer the Uniform Bar Exam.
The Indiana Supreme Court solicited public response to the recommendation and received 48 comments by the close of the comment period in February. To date, the court has not taken action, but if it does adopt the UBE, Indiana will join its neighboring states of Ohio, Illinois and now Kentucky in offering the national bar exam Currently, Michigan and Wisconsin also are among the states that do not administer the UBE.
As part of the Kentucky Supreme Court’s order, individuals who have passed the UBE in another jurisdiction and are applying to the Commonwealth’s bar must successfully complete the online Kentucky Law Component.
Also, the applicants to the Kentucky bar must meet the educational requirements — including graduating from an accredited law school and completed a course on ethics — and be a member in good standing in all jurisdictions where they have been admitted to practice, not currently subject to any lawyer discipline, and have been approved by Kentucky Supreme Court’s character and fitness committee.
The Kentucky Office of Bar Admissions shall begin accepting UBE applications Jan. 1, 2021.