Friday, May 27, 2022
The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of its Board of Law Examiners to not permit an applicant to transfer his 2017 UBE score
we agree with the decision of the Board that the petitioner is ineligible to apply for admission to the practice of law in the State of West Virginia by transfer of his 2017 UBE score.
The petitioner is a 2015 graduate of the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Following his graduation, the petitioner applied for admission by examination to the practice of law in the State of West Virginia and sat for the West Virginia bar examination in July of 2016. Petitioner failed to earn a passing score on the 2016 bar examination. A passing score in West Virginia is 270.
On July 25 and 26, 2017, the petitioner sat for the UBE in the State of New Mexico and earned a score of 275. In April of 2019, the petitioner contacted the Board’s admissions office to inquire about an “ongoing application” for admission to practice law in the State of West Virginia. On April 19, 2019, the deputy administrator for bar admissions sent the petitioner a response on behalf of the Board. She informed the petitioner that his “previously submitted application [for the 2016 West Virginia bar examination] has expired[.]” The petitioner was also provided with instructions on the process to apply for admission by transferred UBE score. The deputy administrator expressly stated in her response that the petitioner would “need to complete a new application[.]”
On August 7, 2020, the petitioner sent an email to the deputy administrator requesting verification that his application for admission by transferred UBE score had been received. The deputy administrator responded that no application had been received. By email on August 13, 2020, the petitioner was informed of the three-year time period to file an application to transfer a UBE score under Rule 3.5(a).
On September 12, 2020, the petitioner sent a letter to the Board asking that it accept his application. The petitioner argued that his 2016 application for admission by examination was “ongoing” and that Rule 3.5 was ambiguous. On September 29, 2020, the Board responded to the petitioner by letter that (1) his 2016 application for admission by examination had concluded when he failed to earn a passing score on the 2016 bar examination; and (2) although the Board received an electronic transcript of his 2017 UBE score on August 7, 2020, no application for transfer of his 2017 UBE had been received. The petitioner finalized his application to transfer his 2017 UBE score on December 28, 2020.
Petitioner then requested a hearing
On January 4, 2022, the hearing examiner issued his recommendation that Rule 3.5 was not ambiguous and that the Board’s determination on the untimeliness of the petitioner’s application be upheld.
The language in Rule 3.5(a) clearly provides that an application to transfer a UBE score must be based on a score earned during an administration of the UBE “taken within three years immediately preceding the date upon which application is made.” Id. The UBE score the petitioner earned in 2017 and upon which he based his application to transfer was earned by him in an administration of the UBE on July 25-26, 2017. The petitioner failed to apply to transfer that score to West Virginia within three years of the administration of that UBE. The records before the Court reflect that the petitioner did not submit his application to transfer his 2017 UBE score until December 28, 2020—more than three years immediately after he had earned that score. Therefore, the Board correctly determined that the petitioner’s application was untimely.