This article originally appeared in The Bar Examiner print edition, Winter 2021-2022 (Vol. 90, No. 4), pp. 14–15.
The Bar Examiner published its first issue in fall of 1931, the year of NCBE’s founding—in many ways, the history of the magazine traces the history of its parent organization. A lot has changed in the intervening nine decades. Indeed, over 90 volumes, and hundreds of issues, the Bar Examiner has had several publication schedules. Originally put out monthly, it then switched to eight issues per year; World War II made publication “of necessity irregular,” as did the COVID-19 pandemic throughout 2020 and 2021. A bimonthly scheduled followed, before the magazine settled into its current quarterly output. Thematic consistency also defines the magazine. To name just a few: what to test and how to test, including standardization and consolidation around NCBE’s multijurisdictional exams; questions of access to testing and the bar, broadly conceived; considerations regarding character and fitness; and, of course, NCBE’s role in it all. A comprehensive Bar Examiner retrospective could fill an entire issue on its own. For now, here is a selection of cover snapshots throughout the decades.
“This Conference wants to be of service to you. Its aim is the raising of the standards both as to knowledge of the law and fitness of character of those who are to become future members of the bar of this country.”
—Vol. 1, No. 1 (November 1931)
“[I]t is in the best interest of legal education to require ultimate testing by an agency outside the law school.”
—Vol. 20, No. 1 (January 1951)
“The conference exists to serve the admitting jurisdictions by producing state-of-the-art bar examination products, educating bar examiners on the art and science of bar admissions, conducting character and fitness investigations, and conducting and publishing research on topics of interest to the bar examining community, the bench, and the bar.”
—Vol. 70, No. 1 (February 2001)
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