Top Four Reasons To Take the DC Bar Exam
Top Four Reasons To Take the DC Bar Exam: Searching for a post graduation job in Washington, DC is stressful. Deciding what state bar to take on top of that is even more stressful. You do not have a future employer telling you what state bar to take so you are left guessing which bar is best for you. If you want to work in the Washington, DC metro area you have three options for the bar exam; Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, DC. Here are the top four reasons to take the DC bar!
Note: this post was written before Maryland turned to a UBE state. Thus, there is a less compelling reason to take the DC bar over the Maryland bar!
Top Four Reasons To Take the DC Bar Exam
Usually employers tell their new hires to take either Virginia or Maryland, depending on the needs of their firm. They later have their new employees waive into DC once they passed their respective state bars. But with no future employer to tell you which state to take you may be unsure whether you should take Virginia or Maryland. Whichever state you pick may severely limit the scope of your job search and your options for the future. But you shouldn’t pick Maryland or Virginia. If you don’t have a job lined up you should take the DC Bar Exam.
Now that Washington, DC Bar Exam is a Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) jurisdiction it opens up a whole world of possibilities with just one exam. By taking one exam you can potentially be barred in multiple states. Once you pass and pay the applicable fees, of course. You should take the DC Bar Exam when you have yet to secure your post graduation employment. It is the smart thing to do. Below are the top three reasons why you should take the DC bar exam if you are still searching for post graduation employment.
1. You get two major cities in one exam.
Taking the DC Bar Exam can give you a great two for one deal. If you take the DC Bar exam and pass, you can transfer your score to New York and become barred there as well (after paying applicable fees). This is a great option for 3L law students still searching for future employment. You may have your heart set on the Washington, DC metro area but the post graduation job market is tough. It may be that in order to have a job in Washington, DC you need to spend a few years in New York getting experience. Taking the DC Bar Exam when you do not have a position yet gives you two huge legal job markets at your disposal for your job search.
Also, the possibility of being barred in New York is a selling point for DC law firms and other DC employers. In interviews you can explain that you can better serve the firm’s clients by being barred in two major legal hubs of Washington, DC and New York.
2. You have a broader job search with the UBE.
Another of the reasons to take the DC bar exam is to open your job opportunities. The sheer number of Uniform Bar Exam jurisdictions greatly broadens your job search. You can expand your job search from coast to coast. The Uniform Bar Exam encompasses 28 jurisdictions and over half the states. Twenty-six states are now UBE jurisdictions, as well as Washington, DC and the US Virgin Islands. This provides two big advantages to your job search.
It also adds another selling point to you as an applicant. You can help serve a firm’s needs by becoming barred in multiple states across the country where they do business. The wide range of UBE jurisdictions also broadens the scope of your job search. Finding a job after law school is hard but it will be even harder if you limit yourself to one state and DC. While you can still focus your applications for Washington, DC, you do not have to say no to opportunities that arise in other parts of the country.
Do not be afraid to apply to employers in Maryland and Virginia even if you are taking the DC bar exam. You can always express that you are more than willing to take the requisite state bar once they hire you. In fact, some lawyers who took either Maryland or Virginia later take the “opposite” state once they are hired to better help their firm. It is not uncommon to take more than one bar exam.
3. Not all hope is lost if you fail the DC Bar Exam.
If you fail the DC Bar Exam, you may still pass in another state. To pass DC you need to receive a passing score of 266 or higher on the UBE. If don’t score 266 or higher but get a 260 or higher there are five states you can transfer your score to and still get barred as an attorney. Alabama, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, and North Dakota all require 260 or above. After transferring your score and paying applicable fees you can still be barred in one of those states. So taking the exam would not be a total lost if you didn’t pass the first time.
4. You will be able to immediately start practicing law in DC
The last of our reasons to take the DC bar exam is that you can practice right away in DC! Unlike lawyers that waive into DC, you will not have to wait to practice law in Washington, DC. Employers that have their new employees take the Virginia or Maryland bars have to wait to have those employees practice in Washington, DC. It takes time to waive into DC. This can be particularly frustrating for firms based in Washington, DC. By taking the DC Bar Exam you will be able to hit the ground running practicing law in DC once you become barred. This is another great selling point for you as an applicant to DC law firms and other employers.
Bonus reason: you won’t waste your time learning state law!
Every year in non-UBE jurisdictions thousands of applicants essentially waste their time memorizing state law in areas they may never utilize. But the Uniform Bar Exam tests general legal principles similar to those you learned in law school. So, if you took a class in the topic, you should have a solid footing for the DC Bar Exam. While you may have to remember the majority versus the minority rule you will not have to remember a specific rule that you will probably never use in your future career. Instead, you will memorize general principles which will hopefully be useful to you in your future legal career.
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