CHARLESTON – The state's recent decision to adopt a standardized bar examination, nationally recognized and gaining acceptance, will help attorneys and law firms while cutting down on exam time and expenses, a state Board of Law Examiners administrator said.

This is good news for attorneys who have taken the exam in other states and want to practice in West Virginia, Madeleine Nibert, bar admissions administrator for the West Virginia Board of Law Examiners, told The West Virginia Record.

"So long as they meet our other requirements, they won't have to sit the exam again," Nibert said.

Starting in July 2017, West Virginia will become the 23rd state in the nation and the first in the region to adopt the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) Uniform Bar Examination (UBE), the state Supreme Court of Appeals announced in a press release.

In 2011, Missouri and North Dakota became the first states in the nation to administer the UBE but West Virginia was not an early adopter.

"We wanted to see how it functioned in other states," Nibert said.

New York and the District of Columbia are expected to begin using the UBE this summer.

"I anticipate more states will adopt the UBE in the next five years," Nibert said.

The UBE is made up of the Multistate Bar Examination, the Multistate Essay Examination and Multistate Performance Test.

"We've been giving the components of the exam for years," Nibert said.

Attorneys who currently want to practice in West Virginia must pass a two-day exam. The first day is an essay section graded by West Virginia attorneys. The second day is the Multistate Bar Examination multiple choice section. The exam in West Virginia is offered only twice per year, in February and July, Nibert said.

Sitting the exam also costs thousands of dollars and there also are expenses related to travel and preparation just to get to the exam.

"It's also pretty common for an employer to ask a young attorney to sit an exam in other states so that they can represent clients in those other states," Nibert said. "So it's easy to see how it will benefit attorneys and employers for the state to adopt the UBE."

Adopting the UBE in West Virginia will require amendments to the Rules for Admission to the Practice of Law in the state, a process that requires a period of public comment.

"The Supreme Court adopted the recommendation of the West Virginia Board of Law Examiners that West Virginia adopt the uniform exam," the state Supreme Court of Appeals said in its press release. "Letters of support from the West Virginia State Bar Board of Governors, as well as from the Dean of the West Virginia University College of Law were received and considered by the Court in its adoption of the UBE."

Assuming all is in order, applicants from attorneys who want to practice in West Virginia can transfer their UBE score. So long as they also meet other state requirements, including education and the character and fitness investigation, and their UBE score is high enough, the application will be accepted, Nibert said.

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