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Single national exam for lawyers gets boost with New York joining in

States are often slow to abandon their own licensing exams for a national exam, but one of the longest holdouts, the legal profession, made a big leap this month when New York announced it will adopt the national Uniform Bar Exam next year. That brings the total to 15 since the push for a single national test began with Missouri signing on in 2011.

In a May report published in the New York Times, New York State’s chief judge Jonathan Lippman said that New York’s decision to join the uniform exam, developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners, will likely result in a “domino effect” across the nation, calling New York the “gold standard” in professional law.

Lippman and other supporters of the exam say the new flexibility of the exam will result in better job prospects for prospective law professionals, which has become a dire need in states like New York. Law school enrollment has dropped 23 percent in New York State since 2010, according to the Times report.

The entirety of New York’s exam will not change in format, however. The 200 question multistate portion of the exam also developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners will remain unchanged. The first day of the exam, however, will consist of six essays and two lawyering skills tasks. Previously,  a test-taker would have to complete the multistate exam, then five essays and 50 multiple choice questions on New State law, along with a multi-state performance test. With the adoption of the uniform exam, there will be no questions garnered toward the “unique distinctions” of New York State Law, according to the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

Read the full NY Times story here.