Students frequently ask us if they have to know state law for the Uniform Bar Exam. For example, if you are taking the Uniform Bar Exam in New York, will you be expected to apply New York state law on the essays? If not, what law do you apply?
Do I Have to Know State Law for the Uniform Bar Exam?
The answer to this question is that you do not have to know state law for the Uniform Bar Exam. So if you are taking the Uniform Bar Exam in New York, you will not be applying New York-specific law on the bar exam. Instead, you will apply “majority” law. In other words, you will be applying the law that most states follow. (Multistate essay exam answers released by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) will sometimes mention both majority law and minority law. However, the NCBE’s response is not tailored to a specific state’s approach to an issue.)
This is convenient in some ways because you do not have to learn “state distinctions.” You will only have to learn one outline for each of the subjects that appear on the multistate bar exam (MBE) and multistate essay exam (MEE). You will not have to learn, for example, one set of Civil Procedure laws for the MBE and a state-specific Civil Procedure outline for the essays, as you generally would if you were in a state that did not administer the Uniform Bar Exam.
The downside of this is that if you are unsure of what the law is, it is difficult to look up or research a “majority approach” where it is often easier to find a specific state’s approach.
Note that some jurisdictions will have you take a state-specific exam or course in order to become licensed. The course or exam is generally online and it is generally completed after the bar exam. Many times, the state will provide the material you have to know. Even in these jurisdictions, you will still apply general law on the bar exam.
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