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Advisory Committee to Maryland Court of Appeals
Schedules Public Hearing on Feasibility of Uniform Bar Exam

(ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND, March 9, 2017) — An advisory committee to the Maryland Court of Appeals will hold a public hearing to gain a broader perspective on the potential benefits and disadvantages of the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE).  The hearing will be held on Thursday, April 13, beginning at 1 p.m., at the Judicial College Education Conference Center, upper level rooms 6 and 7, 2011-D Commerce Park Drive, Annapolis.

The Advisory Committee to Explore the Feasibility of Maryland’s Adoption of the Uniform Bar Examination is tasked with making a recommendation to the Court of Appeals, which regulates the Maryland Bar.  On October 31, 2016, Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera appointed Court of Appeals Judge Sally D. Adkins as Chair and appointed 12 other members of the Maryland legal community to serve on the Committee.  The Advisory Committee is comprised of law school deans, judges, attorneys from small and large firms, members of the State Board of Law Examiners, and others.*

Since its formation, the Advisory Committee has identified five topics and formed related subcommittees, including: portability; scoring; the state law component; quality control; and comparing Maryland essay topics and UBE topics, in preparation for submitting its recommendation to the Court of Appeals by July 2017.  The public hearing on April 13 will allow the Advisory Committee to receive necessary feedback from Maryland’s legal community and the public during this process.

The Committee would appreciate comment on the desirability of adopting the UBE and other relevant information from members of the bar, law firms, consumers of legal services, and other interested individuals and organizations.  Among the issues the Advisory Committee is exploring are:

  1. The effect adoption of the UBE would have on
    1. the quality, cost, and availability of legal services in Maryland;
    2. graduates of Maryland law schools, members of the Maryland bar, and in-state law firms; and
    3. out-of-state lawyers and law school graduates who wish to practice in Maryland.
  2. If the UBE is adopted, should Maryland still include a component focused on Maryland law, and could such a component fit within the current two-day examination schedule?

  3. The fiscal impact of adoption of the UBE.

“The Committee has focused on weighing the advantages and disadvantages of the adoption of the Uniform Bar Examination while considering the need to maintain a rigorous, but fair, test for bar applicants,” said Judge Adkins.

Currently, the Maryland Bar Examination consists of two components, a one-day essay exam focused on Maryland law, and a one-day multiple choice exam known as the Multistate Bar Examination that is a component of the Uniform Bar Examination published by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE).  The Court of Appeals is considering whether to adopt additional components of the UBE in lieu of or as a part of the traditional Maryland essay exam, and has established the UBE Advisory Committee to assist it in doing so. 

The UBE was created by the NCBE to replace state-specific bar exams.  It is coordinated by the NCBE and is uniformly administered, graded, and scored by user jurisdictions.  With some exceptions and restrictions, candidates who take the UBE may transfer their scores to any participating jurisdiction during a three-year period to seek admission.  Currently, 26 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the UBE, some with modifications addressing state-specific law.

The Advisory Committee will accept both written and verbal testimony from the public.

  • To testify in person at the April 13 hearing, you must email your name, organization name, phone number, and email address no later than April 11, 2017 at 4:30 p.m. to Committee Counsel JaCina Stanton: UBECommittee@mdcourts.gov.
  • You may also submit written testimony as an individual or from your organization.  Submit written testimony in Microsoft Word or PDF format no later than April 11, 2017 at 4:30 p.m. to: UBECommittee@mdcourts.gov, and include your name, address, phone number, and email address with your written testimony.

For more information, contact JaCina Stanton, UBECommittee@mdcourts.gov or visit the UBE Advisory Committee’s webpage: http://mdcourts.gov/coappeals/ube

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*The members of the Advisory Committee are Chair, Hon. Sally D. Adkins (Court of Appeals), Hon. Christopher B. Kehoe (Court of Special Appeals), Hon. Sherrie R. Bailey (Circuit Court for Baltimore County), Jonathan Azrael, Esq. (Chair, State Board of Law Examiners), Jeffrey Shipley, Esq. (Member, State Board of Law Examiners), Matthew T. Mills, Esq. (Member, State Board of Law Examiners), Donald Tobin, Esq. (Dean, University of Maryland F.K. Carey School of Law), Ronald Weich, Esq. (Dean, University of Baltimore School of Law), Sheelagh Allston, Esq., Sara H. Arthur (MSBA President Elect), James D. Bragdon, Esq., Andrew D. Levy, Esq., Sydney M. Patterson, Esq., and JaCina Stanton, Esq. (Administrative Office of the Courts).