May 19, 2021

Analyzing First-Time Bar Exam Passage on the UBE in New York State

The New York State Board of Law Examiners (NYBOLE) and AccessLex Institute
Research and Data
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This report is the culmination of three years of work to collect, analyze, summarize, and interpret data on the experiences and outcomes of first-time and second-time New York State Bar candidates. After careful collaboration and review between AccessLex Institute and the New York State Board of Law Examiners to finalize this publication, a release date was anticipated for Spring 2020 to share its findings publicly and to provide recommendations for how the legal education community could build on efforts to equitably and effectively prepare law school graduates for first-time bar exam passage. Of course, at the time nobody had any idea a public health crisis was about to override those best laid plans.

With little to no warning, the New York State Court of Appeals, the New York State Board of Law Examiners, along with other bar examiners and courts, law graduates, and law schools nationwide, faced the daunting task of determining how to respond and adapt to a global pandemic that made conventional testing and learning conditions unsafe and traditional timelines impractical. As a result, it was decided to hold off on releasing this report so that both the New York State Board of Law Examiners and AccessLex Institute could address the most critical and immediate needs facing their respective constituents.

A year later, at a time when the world as we once knew it seems more within reach, and lessons learned over the last year are sparking new ideas about the world to come, this report is being released in its pre-pandemic final form. Anticipating the return to bar exam business as usual and contemplating the implications of forthcoming changes to the bar exam itself in four to five years, the results and recommendations of this report are all the more relevant to the research and discussion of bar exam success. The pandemic and bar exam changes notwithstanding, law graduates are better served passing the bar exam on their first attempt, and so the goal of this report is to provide a first step in identifying ways to promote strategies and support systems to help narrow first-time performance gaps among bar exam candidates, now and into the future.