Bar Exams

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 [California.gov]
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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “$400,000 in Student Debt = Character & Fitness Fail”

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

New York Statue of Liberty.jpgThe results will be made public tomorrow, but February bar exam takers were told this morning whether or not they passed.
Passage results are always lower in February, but you have to feel that this year it is even more critical for second time test takers to pass the exam. You know that firms are looking for excuses to let people go.
That said, not passing — even for the second time — is not the end of the world. There are so many year long deferral options out there, it might be possible to take one and reload for the next bar exam.
Keep your heads up. And congratulations to those who passed.
Earlier: New York Bar Exam Results Are Up
Prior ATL coverage of Bar Exams

florida.jpgThe Florida Bar Exam results are out, and they’re not pretty for some of the top Flori-duh law schools. [FN1]

Law School Headlines asks “What happened on the February 2009 Florida Bar?” noting the abysmal performance by graduates of University of Florida, FSU, and University of Miami. Their passage rates dropped from percentages in the high 80s and 90s on the July exam to 64.9%, 65.0% and 61.1%, respectively. Here’s the press release [PDF].

Did exam takers spend too much time on the beach, and not enough time at BarBri classes?

A representative from the Florida Board of Bar Examiners wouldn’t comment on the problems the graduates of these schools had. She did note though that the rate of passage for first-time test takers is consistent with years past (around seventy percent), and that February exam takers (as opposed to July testers) are a “different group of people.” They tend to be non-traditional students, who didn’t do the whole “enroll in the fall, graduate in three years, take the bar exam in July…”-and-then-pass thing.

But FSU had the highest passage rate among Florida schools on last year’s February exam, as well the July 2007 and July 2006 exams. FSU College of Law Dean Donald Weidner told Tallahassee.com, “It’s disappointing and puzzling.”

It’s also unusual. See passage rates from previous years, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “What’s Up with the Flori-duh February Bar Exam?”

wsgr logo.JPG

Here is just one small indication that law firms everywhere are feeling the pinch. As is customary at many firms, a firm-wide email went around Wilson Sonsini today congratulating all of the associates who passed the July 2008 bar exam.

The happy message reads as follows:

Congratulations to our attorneys who passed the July 2008 state bar exams! Please make sure to reach out and congratulate them. This is a big accomplishment!

Well, “!” I say. Everybody enjoys knowing that their accomplishments are recognized.

But last year’s WSGR recognition was a little more remarkable. Last year, this was the happy message that was sent around the firm:

Congratulations to our associates who have recently passed state bar exams!

To celebrate their success, we will be sending a bottle of champagne to our newest bar passers shortly! Please make sure to reach out and give them your personal congratulations. This is a big accomplishment!

Can you spot the extra sentence?

Firms cannot afford to be frivolous during these tough times, but would a $40 bottle of mediocre champagne really break WSGR’s financial back? According to the firm’s list 53, associates passed the July 2008 bar. That’s just over $2,000 in alcoholic costs.

Even if Wilson Sonsini had done the same thing this year that they did last year, the firm would have still saved some money. 72 people passed last year’s exam.

It’s pretty funny to see all the ways firms are trying to stretch a dollar. I hope the recession doesn’t get any worse, or else firms will have to start eliminating “complimentary” bathroom soap.

We have of course heard of other cost saving maneuvers happening at WSGR. If you know what we’re talking about, send us a tip.

Earlier: More Shock Doctrine: Wilmer Hale ‘Clarifies’ Late Night Meals Policy

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