Mich. R. Bd. Law Examiners 2

As amended through August 10, 2022
Rule 2 - Admission by Examination
(A) An application must be filed by November 1 for the February examination, or March 1 for the July examination. Late applications will be accepted until December 15 for the February examination, or May 15 for the July examination. An application must be accompanied by payment of the fee. All materials filed are confidential.
(B) Before taking the examination, an applicant must obtain a JD degree from a reputable and qualified law school that
(1) is incorporated in the United States, its territories, or the District of Columbia; and
(2) requires for graduation 3 school years of study for full-time students, and 4 school years of study for part-time or night students. A school year must be at least 30 weeks.

A law school approved by the American Bar Association is reputable and qualified. Other schools may ask the Board to approve the school as reputable and qualified. In the event the law school has ceased operations since an applicant's graduation, the request for approval may be made by the applicant. The Board may in its discretion permit applicants who do not possess a JD degree from an ABA-approved law school to take the examination based upon factors including, but not limited to, relevant legal education, such as an LLM degree from a reputable and qualified law school, and experience that otherwise qualifies the applicant to take the examination.

(C) The State Bar character and fitness committee will investigate each applicant. The applicant must disclose any criminal conviction which carries a possible penalty of incarceration in jail or prison that has not been reversed or vacated and comply with the committee's requirements and requests. The committee will report the results of its investigation to the Board. If the committee report shows that an applicant lacks the necessary character and fitness, the Board will review the application, record, and report. If the Board accepts the report, the applicant is entitled to a hearing before the Board and may use the Board's subpoena power. The Board may permit an applicant to take the examination before the character and fitness committee reports. The Board will release the applicant's grade if character and fitness committee approval is obtained.
(D) Every applicant for admission must achieve a passing score, as determined by the board, on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) prepared and administered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners.
(E) The Board may permit an applicant entering the armed forces before the examination immediately following graduation to take an earlier examination. The applicant must have completed, before the examination, 2 1/2 years full-time or 3 1/2 years part-time study. The Board will release the applicant's grade when the school certifies the applicant's graduation.
(F) The applicant is responsible for meeting all requirements before the examination. The Board may act on information about an applicant's character whenever the information is received.

Mich. R. Bd. Law Examiners 2

The Rules for the Board of Law Examiners were amended effective August 1, 2016; amended October 13, 2021, effective 3/1/2022; amended December 15, 2021, effective 8/1/2022.

Staff comment: The amendments implement a Uniform Bar Examination in Michigan with implementation set for the February 2023 administration of the bar examination. The original implementation target date was the July 2022 bar examination. However, that target date was predicated on two things: enactment of accompanying legislation and implementation of a Michigan law component in the examination itself. Neither of those things have occurred, thus, requiring a deferment in the implementation of the UBE in Michigan.

The staff comment is not an authoritative construction by the Court. In addition, adoption of an amendment in no way reflects a substantive determination by this Court.

CAVANAGH, J. (concurring). I concur in the Court's order adopting amendments to Rule 2, Rule 3, Rule 4, Rule 5, Rule 6, and Rule 7 and adding Rule 3a and Rule 4a to the Rules for the Board of Law Examiners. As a result, Michigan now joins the ranks of 38 other jurisdictions who utilize the Uniform Bar Examination. This change seeks to ensure a standard level of competency for lawyers across the country, allows for score portability, and makes the practice of law more accessible to law school graduates facing employment challenges and rising debt. I write to briefly address the concerns expressed by my dissenting colleague. First, while I appreciate the reservation in regard to whether the practical-skills-oriented Multistate Performance Test (MPT) portion of the Uniform Bar Examination is adequate to assess an applicant's ability to practice law in the real world, the same concerns are certainly present in any standardized test that operates under artificial time constraints. While not a perfect measure of competence, the MPT is the best tool we possess at present to gauge practical lawyering skills beyond the ability to memorize and apply principles of law. Second, I emphasize that today's rule change neither prohibits nor discourages the Board of Law Examiners (BLE) from adopting a Michigan-specific component to administer in addition to the Uniform Bar Examination. As Rule 3a provides, an applicant to the State Bar of Michigan will be required to take any Michigan law component required by the BLE in order to be admitted to practice in this state. In keeping with the concerns expressed by my colleague, I urge the BLE to ensure that the bar examination will continue to serve the interests of new attorneys as well as their future Michigan clientele.

BERNSTEIN, J. (dissenting). I do not support the implementation of the Uniform Bar Examination in Michigan for two reasons. First, although I understand the purpose behind a practical-skills-oriented performance test, I struggle to understand how testing those skills under the artificial time constraints set by a standardized test would allow the Board of Law Examiners to meaningfully assess an applicant's ability to practice. Second, it is yet unclear whether the Board of Law Examiners will adopt a Michigan-specific component to an otherwise multistate test. I strongly believe that the Michigan-specific essay component of our current bar examination promotes a comprehensive introduction to Michigan law. Any changes we make to the bar examination should keep in mind the best interests of both new attorneys and the public they will be serving; I believe both groups stand to lose if we fail to focus on Michigan law in the Michigan bar examination.