What does the bar exam look like in Missouri?
You hear it in legal TV shows and movies all the time – “I passed the bar.” But what exactly does it mean to pass the bar in Missouri, and just how difficult is it?
Missouri is one of 40 jurisdictions that has adopted the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE), which is uniformly administered, graded, and scored. It is “designed to test knowledge and skills that every lawyer should be able to demonstrate prior to becoming licensed to practice law,” according to the National Conference of Bar Examiners, the organization that develops the exam. The UBE tests general principles of law, legal and factual analysis, and communication skills.
Scores are portable, meaning lawyers can transfer their scores when applying for admission in other jurisdictions that use the UBE. In Missouri, someone must score at least a 260 to pass the UBE, but the minimum passing UBE score can vary between jurisdictions. For those jurisdictions that don’t administer the UBE, each has its own bar exam that applicants must pass to be licensed to practice law.
The UBE – which occurs on the last consecutive Tuesday and Wednesday of each February and July – consists of three elements:
The multistate bar exam – a six-hour, 200 multiple-choice question exam that covers contracts, constitutional law, criminal law and procedure, evidence, real property, torts, and civil procedure.
The multistate essay exam – six, 30-minute essays that cover civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law and procedure, evidence, torts, real property, business associations, conflict of laws, family law, and trusts and estates.
The multistate performance test - a three-hour test that consists of two simulated case files that requires the applicant to demonstrate fundamental skills all lawyers must have.
Developing the UBE is no easy task. The NCBE has drafting committees comprised of lawyers, judges, professors from more than 30 law schools, and NCBE test editors. External professors and practitioners review the multistate bar exam questions, and all questions are pretested before being used. Jurisdictions also review the multistate essay exams and multistate performance tests before they are used.
It is important applicants research the states they want to practice in since some require applicants to complete a course or test that is separate from the UBE. In Missouri, an applicant must pass the UBE and receive approval from the Missouri Board of Law Examiners regarding the applicant’s character and fitness.
For more information about the UBE and its elements, visit the NCBE’s website. To learn more about the application process to become a licensed lawyer in Missouri, visit the Missouri Board of Law Examiners’ website.