Change Comes Even Slower Than Expected For The Bar Exam
Change doesn’t happen quickly in the legal profession. Known for a healthy dose of stodginess, it takes a lot for a new way of doing something to take hold. But that’s exactly what the National Conference of Bar Examiners did when they announced the NextGen Bar Exam, designed to restructure the licensing test to better gauge problem-solving skills over rote memorization.
The fancy new test was *supposed* to launch in 2026, and the old one would be retired with the July 2027 administration. But now it looks like the old exam format will be kicking around just a bit longer — the old format and the NextGen Bar will be offered to jurisdictions concurrently for two full years.
Amit Schlesinger, Kaplan’s executive director of legal and government programs, had this to say about the development:
“With the NCBE’s latest alteration to the upcoming NextGen Bar Exam rollout, state bar examiners now face a critical decision: Opt for the NextGen Bar Exam or stick with state-specific assessments, and employ a more cautious, ‘wait and see’ approach before adopting new standards. These changes, driven by the NCBE’s pursuit of modernization, offer students varied pathways to licensure, but also introduce uncertainty. Students must navigate this evolving landscape, considering all of the benefits and drawbacks their choices may have on their journey to becoming attorneys. And law schools need to keep these changes in mind while designing their curriculum and what they are teaching students. No doubt this latest change is going to result in some reshuffling of priorities at law schools, in terms of what is taught in the classroom and when. While the options may seem empowering, the shifting nature of the bar exam landscape can also add some complexity to an already challenging process. There may be additional changes to the launch over the coming months and years, so we encourage all students and law schools not to get too attached to what currently stands. The phrase that comes to mind is roll with the punches. At Kaplan, we’ll continue to track any developments closely and ensure that students get the most accurate and up-to-date information and advice as possible.”
Change is still coming, it’s just slower than we thought.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter @Kathryn1 or Mastodon @Kathryn1@mastodon.social.