Bar Exams

bar exam success good luck.jpgThe February bar exam is now over, for everyone, everywhere. Rejoice and enjoy that Inuit prostitute.

Some of you have suggested on open threads that things went reasonably well. Others are hot messes, desperately trying to figure out firm policy when it comes to second-time failing of the bar.

Many February takers are bar veterans. Maybe you can advise this soon-to-be lawyer gearing up for the July bar. She’s trying to make her bar review course decision:

I can already see the angry people who say it’s idiotic not to take BarBri. But, honestly, Kaplan’s complete bar review course in Cal. is seeming ever-more seductive. I would love to make an informed decision based on real information, but it appears to not be out there (ie pass rates for the two).

In addition to courses, there are other tools.

Since quantifiable data is lacking, anecdotal evidence shall have to suffice. Who is feeling the least screwed after taking the February exam — your Inuit friend aside — and which bar review course did you take? Or did you eschew a formal course and prepare in some other way? If so, how?

bar exam taking the bar exam lawyer attorney.jpgFor many of you February bar takers, it’s over. You’ve finished it. Yay! Congratulations. So what are you going to do now?
Seriously, what the hell do you do to celebrate finishing the bar when it’s the middle of freaking February? When you finish in the summer it’s warm and you don’t have to go to work in the morning. You have all kinds of lazy time on your hands to get drunk, make a pass at some Bar/Bri girl you’ve been eying, pass out in a beer garden, whatever.
But what are supposed to do in the winter? Pound a fifth of vodka and enjoy a thrilling chess match before heading to work on Wednesday? Make love to an Inuit prostitute? Buy a new bottle of anti-freeze you’ve had your eye on for the past six weeks? You can’t even go out for a relaxing drive on the open road; your Ton-ton will freeze before it reaches the first marker.
I guess you just have to add “post-bar celebration” to the list of things that are crappier when you have to take the February bar. But maybe there are celebration strategies that I’m missing. Tell us what you are doing to celebrate your success (at completing the exam; we’ll worry about passing it later) in the comments.
The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) [National Conference of Bar Examiners]

bar exam taking the bar exam lawyer attorney.jpgAs we noted this morning, today was the first day of the bar exam for many of you. In light of the still-fragile legal economy, where some firms are looking for any excuse to fire associates, passing the bar exam may be more important than ever.
Some firms — e.g., Quinn Emanuel — have specific policies requiring lawyers to leave the firm if they fail the bar exam a second time. And many candidates for the February bar exam are people who didn’t pass during the July administration, so this is their second time at bat.
In light of the stress that February 2010 bar takers are under, we’d expect some amount of… weirdness. Did the person next to you have a nervous breakdown? Did a fellow exam taker get arrested while taking the bar? Was there an earthquake?
Here’s an open thread for you to talk about today’s bar exam experience.
P.S. Do not post specific questions or answers from today’s test, which could get you in legal trouble.
Earlier: Good Luck on the Bar Exam!

bar exam success good luck.jpg
Today is the first day of the February bar exam. If you’re sitting for the test today, good luck.
Celebrity authoress Elizabeth Wurtzel, a repeat taker, is freaking out. As Wurtzel said last night on Twitter, “I guess I’m taking the bar exam on Tuesday & Wednesday. Anyone with magical, mystical powers who wants to use them on my behalf, please do.”
If it makes you feel better, Lizzie, you’re not alone in your anxiety. Many other aspiring lawyers are losing it on Twitter.
To ATL readers who have passed the bar: Do you have any last-minute tips for today’s victims? Feel free to offer them in the comments.

mike ghaffary barmaxCa one grand iphone app.jpgOver the holiday weekend, reports came pouring into the ATL inbox about the most expensive iPhone app currently on the market. It costs $1,000 and is aimed at legal types, specifically those who want to be lawyers in California. From PCWorld:

BarMax: California Edition, available now in the iPhone’s App Store for $999.99, is a study guide for the California Bar Exam. Harvard lawyers oversaw development of the app, which weighs in at 1 GB and includes outlines, lectures, a study calendar, and real questions and essays from previous exams. The only comparable app available now is from BarBri, but you must be enrolled in the company’s $3000 to $4000 classes to use most of the features.

According to TechCrunch, the man behind the app is Mike Ghaffary, a JD/MBA ’06 Harvard grad. Ghaffary was just recently admitted to the California bar himself, in December 2009.
He says he came up with the BarMax app idea while studying…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyer of the Day: Mike Ghaffary, the JD/MBA Behind the $1,000 Bar Exam iPhone App”

MPRE.jpgThe latest Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) results are out. Here at Above the Law, I drew the short straw and have to write something about a test that is given roughly 8,000,000 times a year.
What can one really say about a test that is a little easier than walking and chewing gum? Congratulations to those who passed? Absolutely.
But if you didn’t pass, honestly, what the hell is wrong with you? We’re in the middle of the worst legal economy anybody can remember. I find it chilling to think that some people were flummoxed by simple ethics questions like “can I break my clients’ knee caps if they do not pay me?” Obviously, lawyers in good standing can only break one knee cap per deadbeat client. Breaking both of them will just result in further payment delay.
Then again, with the great mass of humanity flooding law schools right now, testing minimal ethical standards is probably more important than ever. It’s not like we want to let just anybody into the profession. There are not enough jobs to go around as it is.
With that in mind, let’s hope the MPRE starts testing ethical situations that today’s young lawyers are likely to face. How much of your deferral stipend can you use for pot? How long after being fired as a first-year can you continue to bitch about being fired as a first-year?
Times are changing, so should the test.
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of the MPRE

Crushing Debt Obligations.jpgI spent all day yesterday trying to summon the rage, trying to figure out a way to trumpet the cause of a sixty-something, recent law school graduate who is still having trouble discharging her student loans in a bankruptcy proceeding. The National Law Journal has the tear-jerking story:

When she graduated four years ago with a law degree at the age of 61, Denise Megan Bronsdon likely did not foresee bankruptcy court in her future. But that’s where she ended up — as a debtor.

The former farmer’s wife, who operated a tractor before going to Southern New England School of Law in 2002, convinced a Massachusetts bankruptcy court in January that repaying the more than $82,000 she owed in student debt would create an undue hardship. However, the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, considering an appeal by the lender, Educational Credit Management Corp., found on Nov. 20 that Bronsdon’s decision not to participate in a loan repayment assistance program should be part of the bankruptcy court’s undue hardship analysis.

If I was half the man I used to be, I’d take a flamethrower to this place. Hoo-Ha!
But the problem with my flamethrower is that I do not know where to point it. I could get angry at the entire system that makes student loans so difficult to discharge through bankruptcy. Or I could get mad at the law school that essentially stole this woman’s money. Or I could get angry at the woman herself — who failed the Wisconsin bar three times.
Oh, I know, let’s get pissy at all of them.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Discharging Law School Debt in Bankruptcy Doesn’t Get Any Easier When You Are Old”

Crushing Debt Obligations.jpgBack in July, we wrote about Robert Bowman, whose application for admission to the New York bar was derailed by debt. A panel of five appellate judges concluded that, in the words of the New York Times, “his student loans were too big, and his efforts to repay them too meager, for him to be a lawyer.
Bowman sought reconsideration of the ruling. His effort was unsuccessful.
Details after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Update: Debt Still Disqualifying for New York Bar Applicant”

california republic.jpgCalifornian bar takers are hoping to have something to be thankful for next Thursday. They get their bar exam results today at 6 p.m. PST.
Results are available to bar takers tonight and to the general public on Sunday at 6 a.m. PST.
Says one tipster who is not too confident:

California Bar Results come out at 6:00 pm pst today… counting down the hours until I found out I failed….

Releasing results on a Friday is a great idea. It means that the successful can live it up and the not-so-successful can drink themselves into a sad stupor. And everyone can sleep it off on Saturday morning.
Here’s an open thread for those who want a place to comment while chugging.
July 2009 California Bar Examination Pass List [State Bar of California]

Bar exam fail.JPGWe have done a number of open threads on the bar exam as results in various states have been released. Congratulations to all those who passed.
But what about the few, the unhappy few, who did not pass? We know that the pressure was greater than ever this year to pass the bar on the first try. The fear is that people who did not pass the July bar would be summarily shown the door by their law firms. That fear only increases for incoming first-year associates who have been deferred until January and haven’t actually started working yet.
Has the worst-case scenario happened? So far, we have not heard of a firm that decided to fire everybody who didn’t pass the July bar. Do people who failed the bar expect to get one more chance in February? Have the firms communicated at all with those that failed this past bar exam?
It was hard enough for incoming associates to get a job in the first place. Hopefully nobody ruined their employment chances by not passing the bar on their first attempt.
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of state bar exams

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