Media contact: NCBE: communications@ncbex.org 

MADISON, WISCONSIN, March 14, 2024 — Two states announced plans this week to adopt the NextGen bar exam, bringing the total number of jurisdictions that have announced their intent to adopt the new exam to sixteen. Minnesota intends to first administer the exam in July 2027, and Colorado will hold its first administration in July 2028.

“The NextGen exam furthers our goal of ensuring that new attorneys in Colorado have the knowledge and skills to meet their clients’ legal needs,” said Jessica Yates, who oversees attorney admissions and registration in Colorado as Attorney Regulation Counsel for the Colorado Supreme Court. “It also helps ensure that Colorado remains part of a broad group of jurisdictions supporting lawyer mobility by offering portable bar exam scores that can be used for admission elsewhere.”

John Koneck, Chair of the Minnesota Board of Law Examiners, said, “Minnesota’s adoption of the NextGen exam follows a comprehensive study that the Board commenced in 2021 and recommendations made by the Board to the Court in 2023. The Board is confident that the NextGen examination will test the skills and knowledge that new lawyers are expected to have and know and appreciates the research and analysis conducted by the NCBE in its development.”

The new exam is being developed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), which currently develops bar exam content for 54 of 56 US jurisdictions. In the US, the highest court in each jurisdiction has authority over the admission of attorneys to practice in its courts, aided by its own bar admissions agency. The NextGen bar exam will replace the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE), and, like the UBE, will serve as the basis for score portability between participating jurisdictions. 

Designed to reflect the work performed by newly licensed attorneys, the NextGen bar exam will test nine areas of legal doctrine (civil procedure, contract law, evidence, torts, business associations, constitutional law, criminal law, real property, family law) and seven foundational lawyering skills (legal research, legal writing, issue spotting and analysis, investigation and evaluation, client counseling and advising, negotiation and dispute resolution, client relationship and management). Tenets of attorney ethics will also be tested in conjunction with other topics and skills.

The new exam will balance the skills and knowledge needed in litigation and transactional legal practice and will reflect many of the key changes that law schools are making to their own curricula, building on the successes of clinical legal education programs, alternative dispute resolution programs, legal research, and legal writing and analysis programs. See https://www.ncbex.org/exams/nextgen/content-scope for detailed outlines of the legal doctrine and skills that will be tested on the exam.

The subjects and skills to be tested were developed through a multi-year, nationwide legal practice analysis focused on the most important knowledge and skills for newly licensed lawyers (defined as lawyers within their first three years in practice). 

Like the current bar exam, the NextGen bar exam will be administered, and the written portions graded, by the individual US jurisdictions. The exam will be administered over one and a half days, with six hours of testing time on day one and three hours on day two. The current bar exam is typically administered in 12 hours over two full days. 

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About the National Conference of Bar Examiners 

The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin, is a not-for-profit corporation founded in 1931. NCBE promotes fairness, integrity, and best practices in bar admissions for the benefit and protection of the public, in pursuit of its vision of a competent, ethical, and diverse legal profession. Best known for developing bar exam content used by 54 US jurisdictions, NCBE serves admission authorities, courts, the legal education community, and candidates by providing high-quality assessment products, services, and research; character investigations; and informational and educational resources and programs. In 2026, NCBE will launch the next generation of the bar examination, ensuring that the exam continues to test the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for competent entry-level legal practice in a changing profession. For more information, visit the NCBE website at https://www.ncbex.org

About the Next Generation of the Bar Exam 

Set to debut in July 2026, the NextGen bar exam will test a broad range of foundational lawyering skills, utilizing a focused set of clearly identified fundamental legal concepts and principles needed in today’s practice of law. The skills and concepts to be tested were developed through a multi-year, nationwide legal practice analysis, focused on the most important knowledge and skills for newly licensed lawyers. Designed to balance the skills and knowledge needed in litigation and transactional legal practice, the exam will reflect many of the key changes that law schools are making today. NCBE is committed to ensuring a systematic, transparent, and collaborative implementation process, informed by input from and participation by stakeholders, and guided by best practices and the professional standards for high-stakes testing. For more information, visit https://nextgenbarexam.ncbex.org/ or https://www.ncbex.org/exams/nextgen

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