Executive Director's Report, 0520 ALBJ, 81 The Alabama Lawyer 184 (2020)

AuthorPhillip W. McCallum.
PositionVol. 81 3 Pg. 184


Vol. 81 No. 3 Pg. 184

Alabama Bar Lawyer

May, 2020

Phillip W. McCallum.

A Decade of the Uniform Bar Exam in Alabama-Looking Back and Moving Forward

Alabama adopted the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE) in 2010 and, in July 2011, became the third jurisdiction in the country to administer it. The UBE is professionally developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) and, among other features, provides for portability of bar exam scores among the UBE jurisdictions (now up to 36) and autonomy of each jurisdiction in grading and setting a minimum passing score. With nearly 185 years combined experience, the members of the Alabama Board of Bar Examiners, chaired by Dothan attorney Dan Johnson, are the experts on bar exam and bar admissions policies in Alabama.

In 2017, the Board of Bar Examiners began a self-assessment to see how its duties and responsibilities were impacted by the evolution of the bar exam, particularly growth of the UBE. The Board of Bar Examiners concluded that there have been substantial changes in its duties and responsibilities over the past decade. In particular, the board realized that responsibilities associated with grading the bar exam are distinctly different from those associated with monitoring and shaping bar admissions policies, and that structural changes to the board were in order to best address those differences.

The Board of Bar Examiners Restructure Task Force was created in 2018 by then President Sam Irby. The task force, co-chaired by Dan Johnson and Bar Commissioner Tom Perry (17th Judicial Circuit), was charged with evaluating the structural changes recommended by the Board of Bar Examiners and exploring other opportunities for improvement of our admissions policies. After a year of active work, the task force recommended reducing the size of the Board of Bar Examiners from 15 members to seven. The task force also recommended that the Board of Bar Examiners implement enhanced grading procedures that will provide a higher level of fairness to examinees, without compromising public protection or the...

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