Bar Exams

wurtzel book cover.gifYesterday we heard from legal ethics experts about whether Elizabeth Wurtzel’s referring to herself as a “lawyer,” despite not having passed the bar yet, could get her in trouble. The two we consulted, Professors Steven Lubet and Stephen Gillers, did not see it as a big deal.
There’s an interesting follow-up over at Gawker, which obtained the following comment from La Wurtzel herself:

This is my understanding: if you graduate from law school/receive a JD, you are a lawyer; if you are licensed, you are an attorney. That’s what I’ve always been told.

Not too many nice things to say about the Bar Exam. Every year, some very gifted people fail it (Hillary Clinton, Kathleen Sullivan of Stanford Law School)–and every year, a lot of real idiots pass it. Hard to know what to make of that ;-)

Regarding Wurtzel’s understanding of the difference between the terms “lawyer” and “attorney,” other folks have been told that too. See the comments to this post from last year on the subject.
But there is disagreement. Read more, and take a READER POLL, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Elizabeth Wurtzel Calling Herself a ‘Lawyer’: A Reader Poll”

man smoking marijuana joint ganja bud.jpgI hope you all enjoyed your bar exam day one morning session. For your lunch break, I have a real-life legal question I just picked up off of the street, standing in front of the Breaking Media offices in Nolita:

You are standing outside your office on a crowded street. Construction workers, residents, and even some clergymen regularly pass by. While smoking a cigarette and minding your own business, a local walks by and asks you for a light. You are about to comply with the request, but the object the local presses to his lips does not appear to be a store-bought cigarette; rather, it appears to be a joint.

You sheepishly ask, “Is that a hand-rolled cigarette?” The local replies “Naw man, it’s the good s***. You wanna hit?”

You shake your head “no,” then scan the street for police officers, but all you see are six-foot blonds entering the casting agency next to your building. Eventually, the local asks again for your lighter.

Should you give it to him? Why or why not? Could you be subject to criminal liability for doing so?

I’m interested to hear what you think. Check back here later — this post will be updated — for my solution.
UPDATE on my solution, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Bar Exam Open Thread: Day One Break Question”

Good Luck on the Bar Exam.JPGHere are some last-minute tips for those of you taking the bar exam this week:

1. Get a good night’s sleep.

2. Set out your clothes for tomorrow, and everything else you’ll need for the exam, before you go to bed.

3. Relax; don’t dwell on the bar exam horror stories. They’ll just freak you out. So many things lie beyond your control — e.g., earthquakes — so there’s no sense in worrying about them.

For more helpful hints, see the Young Lawyers Blog. You’ll do great!
Bar Exam: A Recollection [Young Lawyers Blog]
Bar Exam Horror Stories [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]
Earlier: Last Weekend Before the Bar Exam: Open Thread

California State Bar.JPGOver the weekend, the California state bar website was down. It’s a pretty big system glitch to have on the weekend before the bar exam, as this tipster explains:

Considering past exams and answers, as well as testing center information is on there, I’m sure lots of people are freaking out. Clear sign of incompetence on the Bar’s part here in not addressing the problem at all.

The site was still inactive when we woke up this morning on the east coast. But now, as most of California is getting into gear, the site is back up.
Cram away, left coasters. The bar will be over soon, and you’ll be able to go back to surfing and eating seaweed or whatever.
The State Bar of California []
Earlier: Last Weekend Before the Bar Exam: Open Thread

Panic button.JPGSo. There’s this thing called the bar exam taking place next week. (Exact dates vary by jurisdiction.)
As bar exam candidates enter the home stretch, they exhibit a wide range of emotions. Some are cool as cucumbers, so confident of passage that they spend bar review classes making origami creatures. Others are panicky, hot messes (literally — like the folks who had to sprint down smoke-filled stairwells during the NYU library fire earlier this week).
Does anyone sitting for the bar have last-minute requests for advice? Do any veterans have wisdom to impart? What’s the most effective way to study — or relax — over the next 72 hours or so?
Comments are open. You know what to do.
Earlier: Ahhhhhhhh. The Bar Exam! And a Fire!
Prior ATL coverage of the bar exam (scroll down)

fire.jpgLast night, NYU had two “firestorms”: the announcement that Dr. Thio would not be coming to campus, and a more literal fire at NYU’s Bobst library.
From a tipster around 5 p.m. yesterday:

Just got out of NYU’s Bobst library. There was a small fire and they evacuated everybody inside. I had to run down 6 flights of smoke filled stairs. Great way to prep for the bar exam…

Our correspondent from Greenwich had particularly bad luck:

I actually think if I went down the main stairs I would be fine. They herded us towards two separate fire exits (on the washington park side), and the one I went down was the one filled with smoke. It cleared up around the first floor, so maybe the fire was on the second floor? … The ironic thing is, the other set of stairs seemed fine, and I’m not even a student at NYU. I just came here for one day to see a friend and for the change of atmosphere.

We’d advise heading to the NYU Law Library to study instead, but we have heard that mysterious smells lurk there.
Soooooo, the bar exam is next week. How’s that studying going? Feel free to kvetch in the comments.
Earlier: Breaking: Dr. Thio Is Not Coming To NYU Law
Breaking: Mystery Smell Hits NYU Law Library!!!

From a bored Bar/Bri student:

This is how effective Barbri is this year: this little origami creature (see image below) was created by a student in the NY review course…. during the course. It took her two Corporations lectures and one Conflict of Laws lecture to complete. And she didn’t skip a beat — she had plenty of time to “fill in the blanks,” as we are instructed to do on our lecture handouts.

BarBri Bar Bri mascot.jpg
Can’t believe this elaborate creation is actually origami? Read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “BarBri Boredom: Is This Cute, or What?”

Crushing Debt Obligations.jpgThe New York Times has a fascinating story about Robert Bowman. Bowman took the bar exam four times and racked up $400,000 in student debt on his quest towards becoming an attorney, only to be denied admittance to the bar based on character and fitness. He sounds like a cross between Don Quixote and Jimmy Berluti.

He put himself through community college, worked and borrowed heavily to help pay for college, graduate school and even law school. He took the New York bar examination not once, not twice, not three times, but four, passing it last year. Finally, he seemed to be on his way.

In January, the committee of New York lawyers that reviews applications for admission to the bar interviewed Mr. Bowman, studied his history and the debt he had amassed, and called his persistence remarkable. It recommended his approval.

But a group of five state appellate judges decided this spring that his student loans were too big and his efforts to repay them too meager for him to be a lawyer.

The thing is, the appellate panel didn’t really explain why Bowman’s debt load made him unfit to be a lawyer:

“Applicant has not made any substantial payments on the loans,” the judges wrote in a terse decision and an unusual rejection of the committee’s recommendation. “Applicant has not presently established the character and general fitness requisite for an attorney and counselor-at-law.”

Mr. Bowman, 47, appears to have crossed some unspoken line with his $400,000 in student debt and penalties, accumulated over many years.

Is $400,000 simply too much debt for a lawyer to carry? More details after the jump.

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Javits bar exam sadness.JPGIt looks like there may have been a mini-riot at the Bar/Bri lecture today. Apparently some students felt that the Con Law lecturer wasn’t entirely on top of all the salient issues. We heard from a few of them; here is one report:

I’m one of thousands of BarBri students studying for the New York Bar. I attend one of the Video locations. Today’s lecture was Constitutional Law. The lecturer was Professor Cristina Rodriguez from NYU. She was horrendous. Not only as a speaker/lecturer, but … she also got some points of law wrong on the handout. Barbri had re-recorded the lecture, which is available later today. At my location, students left midway through the lecture. I don’t plan on going to the lecture tomorrow.

Of all the con law profs, how did Barbri end up with one of the worst? Is that all I get with my thousands of tuition dollars?

After the jump, an email that BarBri sent to its students about the Con Law lecture.
UPDATE: Please note that this post has been revised in various respects since it was originally published. In addition, please see the addendum, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Open Thread: How Does Everyone Like Bar/Bri So Far?
Revised and updated; please see after the jump.

california republic.jpgWe’ve been getting reports of disappointing results for February bar exam takers in states across the land. As we’ve said before, passage results are always lower in February. But this year has been particularly dismal in many states (e.g., see Florida).
Today, bar exam results were mailed out in California. Applicants can start checking their results online at 6 p.m. PST and bar exam voyeurs can check the pass list starting Sunday at 6 a.m. PST.
Congratulations to those who passed. And if you failed, take heart — you too could be a contender for a SCOTUS nomination one day.
February 2009 California Bar Examination Pass List [California State Bar]
Earlier: The Bar Exam: A List of Famous Failures

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