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Board of Governors unanimously approves recommendations on education, licensure of Iowa attorneys

The Iowa State Bar Association’s Board of Governors (BOG) unanimously approved the recommendations put forth by the Blue Ribbon Committee on Legal Education and Licensure at its quarterly meeting yesterday (Dec. 11).

The committee, which itself had unanimously approved the recommendations at its meeting last week, recommended that Iowa move away from the multi-state bar exam in use for the past five years and adopt the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) that is portable in 14 states. It also recommended that students who successfully complete three years of specified law school course work at Drake University Law School or the University of Iowa College of Law be admitted to the Iowa Bar without being required to take a bar exam.

"This is an historic, innovative and forward-thinking action that will benefit the next generation of lawyers and the citizens of Iowa,” said ISBA President Guy Cook after the BOG decision. "It will reduce the costs of becoming an Iowa-licensed attorney, and make it easier for new attorneys to practice in underserved areas, including rural areas.

"It also protects the public by ensuring that the Iowa Supreme Court, rather than a multi-state test, determines who becomes an Iowa-licensed attorney,” he added.

Committee Chair David L. Brown praised the collaborative venture between the bench, bar and law schools that led to the committee’s recommendation. Committee members included judges, lawyers, former members of the bar examining committee, the deans of Iowa’s two law schools and a Supreme Court Justice, who served in an ex-officio capacity.

"The action taken by the board makes Iowa a leader in the nation,” he said.

The complete report containing the recommendations and the background behind them will be sent to the Iowa Supreme Court for its review and approval. Read the report.