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Bar News - October 21, 2015

Bar Governance: Bar Admissions Officials Update Bar Board on Exam Trends


Calling New York’s adoption of the Uniform Bar Exam “a game-changer,” representatives from the NH Office of Bar Admissions told the NH Bar Association Board of Governors last month that New Hampshire’s early adoption of the UBE may have insulated the state from the national slump in bar admissions and test scores.

The UBE, which enables bar exam-takers to transfer their scores to the 17 jurisdictions that have adopted it, even lets test-takers who don’t score high enough to be admitted in New Hampshire to secure bar admission elsewhere without retaking the test.

Sherry Hieber, general counsel to the Office of Bar Admissions, and Gordon MacDonald, chair of the NH Board of Bar Examiners, gave an update on New Hampshire admissions and test score trends to the board. They said that New York adopting the UBE is expected to continue to boost bar exam registration numbers in New Hampshire, which remains the only New England state to offer the UBE. This is particularly good news for the Office of Bar Admissions, which is funded entirely by test and admissions fees.

The bad news? Average debt among those admitted to the New Hampshire bar continues to climb. In 2012, Heiber said, the average was $133,000.

Also at last month’s meeting, the board approved a proposal to hold the 2017 NHBA Annual Meeting at the Mountain View Grand Hotel in Whitefield, NH. The multi-day, family-friendly affair will invoke the resort-style bar meetings of yesteryear, when the event was a vacation destination. NHBA Vice President Scott Harris said the goal is to get members of the NH Bar Association away from phone and computer screens and into a relaxed setting where they can interact face-to-face.

In other action, the board voted to expand the Limited Active Members Dues Category and Status, for legal services volunteers (Article II, Membership Dues, Section 8) to include three additional organizations: the Legal Advice and Referral Center, NH Legal Assistance, and the Disabilities Rights Center-NH. A proposed bylaws revision to incorporate the change will be presented at the next Association membership meeting.

The board also approved the final report from the Bench Bar Conference held in March (see related story). Board member Jennifer Parent, who was co-chair of the conference steering committee, said the report would be returned to the Committee on Cooperation with the Courts, of which she is chair. The committee would work first on updating the NH Bar Association Litigation Guidelines and Professionalism Creed.

Parent, the board’s newly appointed ABA Association Delegate, also reported on a change in the makeup of the ABA House of Delegates that was approved at the 2015 Annual Meeting in Chicago. Each state gets one state delegate and at least one association delegate, depending on the size of the association. Each state will now add a young lawyer (younger than 36 and admitted within the last five years) seat to its state delegation for a two-year, staggered term. Parent said she would find out more details about when an election would take place and report back to the board.

The board was scheduled to meet again Oct. 15.

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