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Tuesday, March 14, 2006 

Bar Exam Failures

Daniel J. Solove at Concurring Opinions has a post about the declining pass rates for people taking the bar exam. Here is Solove quoting an article in the National Journal...
Some observers point to higher pass scores required by some states as the culprit, others note a proliferation of new and unaccredited law schools, and still others blame a lack of preparation provided by all law schools. Indeed, the situation has become such a concern that law schools have begun implementing for-credit bar review courses into their curricula.

Whatever the reason, the failure to get an attorney's license is creating a crisis situation for a growing number of graduates who sit for the exam, often burdened with crippling debt. . . .
Of the reasons listed, I tend to agree with Solove and place the blame on the higher scores required to pass. States like California have been doing everything possible to limit the amount of lawyers accepted to their bar. Even Kathleen Sullivan, sainted Constitutional law scholar of the Left, failed their bar exam.

The only answer that makes sense is that the states are making it harder to pass in order to protect their market from being filled with too many lawyers. I think that blaming the new and unaccredited law schools is a cheap shot. I get the sense that the same market share issue for lawyers in a state has spread to law schools and their cut of the students (and their tuition money). The new schools are just targets of the old ones, angry that the new schools are horning in on their action. I'm also not persuaded by the argument that law schools aren't preparing students for the exam. Have they ever? It's been common practice to spend a decent chunk of time post-graduation just studying, taking bar exam courses, etc. That's just the norm.

I think Solove is onto something with getting rid of the bar exam. Here in Wisconsin, we have the diploma privilege. If you graduate from one of our two excellent law schools (and take the required courses), you are admitted into the state bar. No exam necessary. Solove is especially critical of the exam...
It doesn't test the critical analytic abilities needed to practice law; instead, it is basically a memory test about a bunch of rules that are often obsolete. One has to suppress thinking on the Bar Exam.
Lawyering is not about memorizing rules. It's about knowing how to research, think, and form an argument. The exam really just seems to be a means to control the amount of lawyers in a state's market.

hmm...maybe controlling the lawyer population isn't the worst idea in the world. of course, as a prospective law student myself, I don't think difficult bar exams are the right way to go about it. tort reform would be a good start though.

Oh I understand why they want to control the lawyer population. We're like locusts. The bad ones especially will do a lot of damage to a state. Personally, I think that having people go through law school and finding no work is a good thing. That shock will deter others.

I really question the utility of a lot of lawyers in the population. That's why I'm probably going to do something "non-traditional" with my law degree. It's a great skill set; more people need to realize that.

While I enjoy reading your blog, and acknowledge a need for lawyers, to a certain extent in society, I am one who feel there are way too many lawyers. Washington D.C. is loaded with them. Just look at the garbage that comes out of that place. It's non-sense. Then I look at the system that encourages more. Sue for anything. Unfortunately, the jury pool is a bunch of morons who hate corporate America and can't wait to stick it to them, no matter the consequences. Then there are the judges who have no buisiness being appointed for life. Seeing some of the rulings by some Fed judges, there need to be either a term limit,(yes, I'm for them for ALL of govt'), or a faster way to impeach them when it's obvious they don't belong there. I know, I'm dreaming of a fairy tale.

The problem is that the only way to fight bad lawyering is with more lawyering. I don't think that we need more lawyers. I think that we need more of the right kind of lawyers (And yes, that's my personal ideological bias showing through).

The only way to fight a William Brennan is to get an Antonin Scalia. The only way to fight a Seth Waxman is to get a Ted Olson. When the courts are the battleground for so many of our political, legal, and Constitutional battles, we need well trained legal soldiers on our side. Or else, we lose.

You make a good point, you, you, Almost Lawyer you! LOL

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  • I'm Steve
  • From Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
  • "There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." P.J. O'Rourke
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