Bar Exams

Update / Clarification: Some commenters have complained about a formatting problem in an earlier version of this post. If you encountered this formatting problem, it’s time for you to enter the 21st century, ditch Internet Explorer, and adopt a better browser, like Firefox (download it here). Or get a Mac.
But just for the record, the formatting error was your editor’s fault, not that of FROLIC & DETOUR. We apologize for the mistake (which you should not hold against F&D).
After Tuesday’s discussion, readers submitted some beautiful examples of the bureaucratic glory that is character and fitness:

On my 2003 application I reported that I had lived in one location until “June 1996″ and another location starting “July 1996.” I got a call saying I had failed to account for where I lived for almost two months. When I asked them what they meant, they said they were missing addresses for the period between June 2, 1996 and July 30, 1996.

I got grief from C&F for failing to disclose a citation for failure to wear a seatbelt. It was a $10 ticket that I got 6 years before applying to the bar.

And my personal favorite:

When asked why I left the Dean campaign I wrote “Iowa, the Scream.” They asked for more details.

Thanks for the stories. But since this is the last post of ATL Idol, I’m cutting to the chase. It was clear from Tuesday’s comments that readers were more interested in my character than in character & fitness. So let’s talk about that.
To clear up some misconceptions, I’m not Miss Alli/Linda Holmes. I have a B.A. and J.D. from Harvard, and I don’t know whether I know Sophist. I really did interview fired biglaw partners who knew I was writing for ATL (Lat knows who they are). I’m done with legal practice whether I’m the Idol or not. And whatever happens this weekend, I’m grateful to all the voters who think my garbage stinks a little bit less than the competition’s garbage. I feel like a bacterium that survived a three-week penicillin bath.
avatar Frolic and Detour ATL Idol.jpgFinally, I have to address the reader accusation that I am an anti-Semite. I have to admit, this one is true. Those schmucks in my mishpocheh give me nothing but tsuris.
[Ed. note: This post is by FROLIC & DETOUR, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Frolic & Detour's avatar (at right).]

avatar Frolic and Detour ATL Idol.jpg[Ed. note: This post is by FROLIC & DETOUR, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Frolic & Detour's avatar (at right).]
It’s puzzling that lawyers have a reputation as a bunch of thieving shysters. After all, we have to prove our character and fitness before joining the profession. Unlike, say, doctors, lawyers’ unique responsibilities demand high moral standards as well as professional skill. Only the pure in heart can be allowed to carry the briefcase.
Yes, 3Ls, for a mere $815 (0r more), expert bureaucrats will judge your moral merit. Along with the occasional white supremacist, state C&F committees weed out sinners great and small. Unpaid parking tickets? They’re on it. Remember that security deposit on your 1999 summer share? They do.
Maybe you didn’t think that a drunken tailgate from sophomore year would come back to haunt you. But we’ve already heard from several C&F veterans about the long-forgotten dramas that stood between them and their legal dreams:

I worked as a paralegal at a small New York firm in between college and law school. After six months, I got sick of picking up sushi and making copies, so I quit. The firm was furious that I was leaving, and they threatened to do whatever it took to keep me out of the bar. Sure enough, three and a half years later, they told California that I was a liar and not to be trusted. California admitted me anyway. Later in my career, I moved to New York. This firm again told the bar that I was a liar and made as much trouble as they could — almost six years after I quit.

I skipped a lot of class in high school and ended up with a bunch of Fs. I graduated from college with honors, then made it to a top-6 law school, with years of work experience along the way. I was 26 when I took the bar. C&F gave me huge problems over my high school academic record. They made me write a long apology and promise never to do it again. For real.

So readers, what vomit blotches stained your bar applications? How did you have to pay penance? Share in the comments or at [email protected], and we’ll discuss on Thursday.

Room of One's Own.jpgApologies for the tardiness — this news is from last month. But it’s about the bar exam, which is still fresh in the minds of many, so it’s fair game.
Some of you who took the New York bar exam last week complained of a loud, distracting, feedback-type noise in one of the rooms at the Javits Center. There were also reports of cell phones going off during the test.
Wouldn’t you have liked a room of your own, quiet and distraction-free? Or maybe an extra day to take the bar exam? From the West Virginia Record:

West Virginia’s Board of Law Examiners printed its examination in big type for Shannon Kelly last year, gave him a room to himself and allowed him an extra day to complete the test, and he blames them for his failure.

Kelly sued the examiners July 21 in U. S. District Court at Charleston, demanding four days to finish an exam that most law school graduates finish in two days.

“He has severe deficits in processing speed, cognitive fluency and rapid naming,” wrote his attorney, Edward McDevitt of Bowles Rice McDavid Graff and Love in Charleston….

Kelly received a score of 253 last year, 17 points fewer than he needed to pass the exam. He had asked for four days to take the exam, but the board had granted three.

We don’t mean to sound callous or, even worse, politically incorrect. But if one has “severe deficits in processing speed, cognitive fluency and rapid naming,” one should perhaps explore professions other than law. Some people just aren’t cut out for it. E.g., Paulina Bandy (who failed the California bar exam thirteen times, before passing on try #14).
Meanwhile, in other complaints about bar exam administration:

Thought you might be interested. Prefer to be anonymous lest it sound like I’m whining.

One of the rooms of CA Bar test takers received five additional minutes as a consequence of the earthquake. This was the room with the metal grate and bakery. [Ed. note: Bakery???] Older male Caucasian announcer.

Ballroom A/B/C, with an older, white-haired, female Caucasian announcer, got no extra time.

To those of you who just took the bar exam, especially in California: Is the tipster’s complaint fair, or frivolous? Does it affect the fairness and integrity of the exam? Or is five minutes just too trivial to get worked up over? It’s certainly not as big a deal as getting an entire extra day.
Well, Californians, look on the bright side: here’s an even worse exam to have interrupted by an earthquake.
Student with disability sues after failing law exam [West Virginia Record]
L.A. quake catches Twitter user in ladyparts exam [Valleywag]

If so, then you might enjoy this short video, in which a Houston Chronicle reporter hangs out with a few folks who just took the test.
In response to the “what are you going to do now / I’m going to Disney World” question, interviewee Masoud Darvishi says he wants to “kiss…. girls.” One gets the sense, however, that that’s not all he’d like to do.
The first interviewee, Adam Curley, is super-cute. But why no women in the video?

Celebrating the Bar [Houston Chronicle]

BarBri bar bri bar exam review course prep course Above the Law Above the Law ATL.jpgTo everyone who is done with the bar exam: CONGRATULATIONS!!!
Go get yourself a well-deserved drink — or two, or three.
That’s what we’re going to do, and we didn’t even take the bar. We’re heading off now for drinks with some friends who just took — and, hopefully, passed — the bar.
Here’s an open thread to look back upon the bar exam experience. In the comments, feel free to share funny anecdotes, horror stories, and other personal perspectives on the test.
You should probably avoid mentioning the substance of specific questions and answers from the MBE, which could get you in hot water. See here (via a commenter).
P.S. Speaking of anonymous posters on the internet getting unmasked through legal process, here’s an update on the AutoAdmit lawsuit.
EarthLink Subpoenaed for Customer Records When Anonymous Web Posting Reveals Bar Questions [Fulton County Daily Report]
Yale Students’ Lawsuit Unmasks Anonymous Trolls, Opens Pandora’s Box [Wired]

BarBri bar bri bar exam review course prep course Above the Law Above the Law ATL.jpgHere it is, folks — the daily bar exam open thread. You know what to do.
To those of you who are done (e.g., people taking New York only): congratulations. To those of you with another day to go: good luck.
If you’re one of those people suffering through three days of bar examination hell — either because you’re in a state with a three-day test, or you’re taking two states back-to-back — you have our sympathies. Back in the day, we took the New York and New Jersey bar exams back-to-back. After a mind-frying two days spent taking the NY bar exam, we had to make the long drive home from Albany, to sit for the NJ bar exam the next morning. Fun stuff.
But don’t worry, you’ll survive. And statistically speaking, odds are that you’ll pass.
(We did, in both states — despite attending a law school whose graduates “tend to underperform in passing the bar.”)
Earlier: Bar Exam Open Thread: So How Was Day One?

BarBri bar bri bar exam review course prep course Above the Law Above the Law ATL.jpgOur apologies to those of you who sat for the bar exam today. We forgot to wish you good luck, unlike the QuizLaw kids:

It’s a special day for the country’s future lawyers — over the next two to three days, thousands of recent law graduates will take the bar exam. Most will pass, some will not. Somewhere, in some state, at least one person will freak the fuck out during the exam. That person will then become part of bar exam lore, an anecdote passed down from bar taker to bar taker to make them feel better about their chances.

Could ATL’s failure to wish you good luck be responsible for the earthquake that hit California in the middle of today’s test? We hope not. Talk about “bar exam lore” — an earthquake certainly qualifies.
Anyway, we won’t make the same mistake twice. To everyone taking the bar exam this week, GOOD LUCK!!!
If you’re one of the poor souls going through the ordeal of the bar exam, and checking ATL between day 1 and day 2 — or maybe on the eve of day 1, for those of you in Wednesday – Thursday jurisdictions — feel free to tell us how you’re feeling, in the comments.
Earlier: Breaking: Earthquake Hits California on Day 1 of the Bar Exam!

earthquake California bar exam.jpgBecause the bar exam isn’t scary enough without the occasional act of God. This just in, from tipsters:

“Earthquake just hit LA and the epicenter was just next to Ontario, CA, where the CA bar exam is being administered!”

“I hope you are going to open a thread about those poor people taking the CA bar exam when the earthquake hit today. I’m curious to know how things were handled and if there were proctor freak outs!”

Read more, after the jump.

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travel.jpgWith bar exams taking place at the end of this month, a bunch of almost-lawyers are furiously studying away. It’s not the worst way to spend the dog days of summer… but it’s pretty bad. If you’re in that boat, we wish you luck (and encourage you to spend your study breaks here at ATL).
While few look forward to taking the bar, many look forward to post-bar, pre-start-date travel: the legendary, celebrated bar trip, your last hurrah before immersion into the grim realities of law firm life. With Biglaw start dates pushed back at quite a few firms (see here, here, and here), some of you may have more travel time than expected.
So where are you headed, and how long are you staying there? Or where are you considering going? Is Europe still a desirable destination, or does the weakness of the dollar put it out of reach? Is southeast Asia still a popular pick, or is a post-bar trip to Thailand so “five minutes ago”? Please share your views, in the comments.
If nothing else, this post should trigger you to buy airplane tickets — e.g., on a 21-day advance fare — if you haven’t done so already. Last-minute airfare deals seem to be a thing of the past (perhaps due to rising fuel costs). If you want to get a ticket using frequent flyer miles, you need to act fast — heck, you may even be too late — given the dwindling supply of such seats.
Kash leaves today for two months in Hong Kong — an unfortunate destination in terms of weather right now, described by the Lonely Planet guide as “punishingly hot and humid” during the summer. Hope you’ve made wiser choices!

funny-pictures-cat-furniture.jpgWhile responses to last week’s ATL / Lateral Link survey on summer associate programs continue to flow in (add your 2 cents here), let’s pause to consider what last year’s summer associates are going to experience over the next few months: bar exams (sorry), relocations, and sweet, sweet signing bonuses (or not).
We’ve received about a hundred comments and tips since we posted our “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Starting Bonuses But Were Afraid To Ask” table, which aggregated the results from our ATL / Lateral Link surveys on bar stipends and reimbursements, salary advances, and signing bonuses, relocation benefits and whether you have to pay it all back when you leave.
So today, we’re updating the table to fill in some more blanks.
The table below now shows six things for each firm:
  * which bar exam expenses the firm will reimburse (send us tips to fill in the blanks),
  * whether the firm pays new associates a summer stipend or a signing bonus or graduation bonus (not counting clerkship bonuses, which are discussed elsewhere),
  * whether the firm provides salary advances (i.e., loans) in any particular amounts,
  * whether the firm provides any particular relocation benefits,
  * whether the firm provides a pro-rated bonus (a “stub bonus”) for the period between your start date and the end of the year first year, and
  * whether the firm will make you pay it all back if you leave. As a general rule, payback requirements will apply to everything but a stub bonus, and will include clerkship bonuses.
And now, that introduction aside, read on to see the aggregated table of bar reimbursements, stipends and bonuses, salary advances, moving expenses, stub bonuses, and payback requirements. Check it out, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Life Survey: Everything (Else) You Always Wanted To Know About Starting Bonuses But Were Afraid To Ask”

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