How National Licensing Could Help Close the Justice Gap–Lawyerist

By Jenny Odegard

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South Dakota is leading the charge on relocating new attorneys to under-served communities by offering a stipend of $12,000 per year for five years. This number is meant to nearly cover the cost of attending their local university’s law school, which should be a tempting offer for hundreds of newly licensed attorneys looking for an opportunity to make an impact. Yet this program has a modest goal of recruiting only 17 attorneys by the year 2017.

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The Uniform Bar Exam is a nationalized test with a portable score to all of the states that have adopted the test. While the UBE is not a nationally portable law license, it is an opportunity to apply for admission without having to sit for an additional full bar exam.

Sixteen states, most recently including New York, have now adopted the test. States still conduct their own character and fitness evaluation, and most require a shorter, less burdensome local education requirement. States also set their own passing score, which means test takers may not be certified for admission in the state they took the exam but could qualify elsewhere without retaking it.

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