New rules have been announced for lawyers seeking Admission Without Examination (AWOX) to be admitted in Texas. This change can have a significant impact on lawyers considering relocation to Texas, especially major cities like Austin, Houston, and Dallas that have become hubs for litigation and landmark cases.
Can you waive in to the Texas Bar?
Currently, in order to be licensed in Texas without taking the Texas Bar Examination, you must demonstrate that you:
- Hold a J.D. from an ABA-approved U.S. law school
- Are licensed to practice law in another state
- Have been actively and substantially engaged in the lawful practice of law as your principal business or occupation for at least 5 of the 7 years immediately preceding your application
- Have never failed the Texas Bar Examination
In addition, you must:
- Be certified by the Board as having present good moral character and fitness
- Score 85 or higher on the MPRE
- Satisfy the requirements of Rule 2(a)(5)
- Be willing to take the required Oath
Texas Bar Reciprocity
Beginning in 2020, Texas will allow out-of-state lawyers to waive-in if they meet their state’s minimum UBE score. Apparently, this has been in the works for a while, at least in other states, and Texas is now taking part. The required score has not been announced, but it’s speculated to be a score of 270 (currently, UBE passing scores range from 260 to 280).
This is a terrific break for the lawyer with less than 5 years of experience with a high enough UBE score not to be required to sit for the bar exam.
The Texas Supreme Court has adopted a task force’s recommendation to adopt the UBE in place of the current Texas bar exam. The Texas task force recommended adoption of the Uniform Bar Exam after conducting a two-year study of bar examinations. The first UBE exam is expected to be given in February 2021.
The Texas exam currently includes some of the components found in the Uniform Bar Exam (including the multistate bar exam or “MBE” as well as a multistate performance test or “MPT” portion). The major difference between the Texas bar exam and the Uniform Bar Exam is the UBE only administers six essays that test “general” law. The current Texas bar exam has 12 essays that test Texas law.
A separate Texas Law Course and Texas Law Examination will likely be required. These components were also recommended by the Texas task force.