On April 18, 2018, the Tennessee Supreme Court filed an order making Tennessee the 32nd state to adopt the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE). This decision was supported by the deans of Tennessee’s six law schools. The first UBE will be administered in February 2019.
The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) prepares the UBE. It also prepares the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) and the Multistate Performance Test (MPT) that are already being used in Tennessee.
The bar exam will continue to be administered over two days. As before, the MBE will consist of 200 multiple choice questions distributed evenly among seven subject areas: Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, and Torts. The exam will also include two MPTs and six Multistate Essay Questions (MEEs). The most significant differences between the current Tennessee bar exam and the UBE are:
- 2 MPTs instead of 1.
- 6 essay questions instead of 9.
- The 6 MEE essay questions will be prepared by the NCBE rather than the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners.
A consensus exists among Tennessee’s law schools that the essay questions prepared by the NCBE will assess the test takers’ grasp of general legal principles more fairly and effectively that the locally prepared essay questions. The grading standards also developed by the NCBE will also assure that the scores on the essay questions will be uniform.
The UBE will not test knowledge of the unique nuances of Tennessee law. In an order filed on April 19, 2018, the Tennessee Supreme Court requested comments regarding a proposed amendment to Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 6 providing that persons taking the UBE on and after February 2019 will also be required to successfully complete a “Tennessee Law Course” within one year of admission to the Tennessee bar. Neither the nature of this course nor its cost have been determined. Additional information regarding this course can be found at http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/order_for_rule_6_amendment_commentsadm2018-713.pdf
We do not anticipate adjusting our curriculum in response to the adoption of the UBE. We already offer required courses in every subject tested on the UBE. In addition, our required Advanced Legal Studies course enables students to refresh and augment what they learned the these courses, and the Bar Exam Workshop provides additional opportunities to become more proficient in answering questions formatted as they will appear on the bar exam. Our relationship with BARBRI also gives our students access to a wealth of online bar prep materials.
We also will not lose sight that we are a law school in Tennessee and that our historic mission is to enable our graduates to have successful careers in Tennessee. Accordingly, we intend to continue making sure that the unique aspects of Tennessee law and practice remain part of every course in which Tennessee law is controlling or relevant.
Very truly yours,
William C. Koch, Jr.
President & Dean