Bar Exams

Jodi Arias

* Hot on the heels of news about Pillsbury’s talks with Orrick, we’ve got the scoop on yet another possible law firm merger. Patton Boggs has the urge to merge, and Locke Lord seems pretty receptive. [Reuters]

* Three people who were optimistic about law school graduated with three very different results. One has a job, one is unemployed, and one failed the bar. Sadly, this seems pretty standard. [National Law Journal]

* Lat’s going to be on vacation this week (lucky him), but while he’s gone you can check out his review of a new novel set in a law firm, The Partner Track (affiliate link) by Helen Wan. Enjoy! [Wall Street Journal]

* A judge denied the NCAA’s motion to dismiss Ed O’Bannon’s antitrust lawsuit, noting everyone could “suck her dicta” concerning the Supreme Court’s notion that players cannot be compensated. [ESPN]

* Jodi Arias wants to fire Kirk Nurmi, her lead attorney, claiming in a 12-page handwritten motion that he has an “utter poverty of people skills.” Her words hurt as much as her stab wounds. :( [Arizona Republic]

Earlier this month, the National Jurist released its first-ever ranking of the private law schools with the “best value.” We found it odd, of course, that the “best value” designation was awarded to schools where less than half of students (and in some cases, less than a third of students) are able to retain their merit scholarships, but we tried to give the magazine the benefit of the doubt. After all, this is the same publication that used incorrect indebtedness figures to crown at least three schools as offering the “best value” in the nation, as recently as last year.

We thought that maybe things would be better when National Jurist rolled out its seventh annual Best Value rankings, for both public and private law schools. The Best Value ranking system takes into account a law school’s tuition (25% of study), students’ cost of living expenses (10%), students’ average indebtedness upon graduation (15%), the percentage of graduates who got a job after graduation (35%), and bar passage rates (15%). As in years past, National Jurist ranked only the top 20 schools, and gave letter grades to the rest of the schools on the list, ranging from A- to F.

So were this year’s Best Value rankings as fraught with error as last year’s? Continue reading to find out…

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It’s that time of year again, and people are starting to get very antsy as they await the results of the July 2013 bar examination. While a handful of states have released test takers from their torturous waiting game, other locales will keep bar examinees on pins and needles until November.

We’ve already heard about the results from North Carolina — as usual, the Tar Heel State was the first to get its results out. Speaking of North Carolina, we’ve heard this year’s results were rather ugly. It seems there was about a 10 percent dip in the passage rate this summer, even though no one had to take the bar in the dark. Yikes! Getting back to the results, next in line came Utah (remember when we released the state’s unofficial results?), followed by Florida, and then Indiana.

Let’s talk bar exam results…

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Florida, Indiana, Utah — any others?

It’s the middle of September, which means most people are waiting for the results of their summer bar exams. Here in America, we all take the bars at the same time, so new lawyers hit the market at relatively the same time. This is because… well, I don’t know, but it’s how we do things.

In Puerto Rico — which is kind of like a disenfranchised America, like D.C. or black people living in North Carolina — they do things a little differently. This is because… oh, who cares? It’s weird, from a mainland point of view. There are lots of things that are weird about the Puerto Rican bar…

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Lady Gaga

* You skip over the footnotes when you’re reading for class, but Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg doesn’t think you should. She’s a proponent of the most important footnote in all of constitutional law. [New Yorker]

* New York will modify its pro bono requirement for LL.M. students to allow public service completed outside the country. Well, so much for closing the state’s justice gap. [New York Law Journal (sub. req.)]

* Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the government-initiated trademark infringement actions over “Don’t Mess With Texas.” Like “I <3 NY," the Lone Star State's slogans are off limits. [New York Times]

* WUSTL Law Dean Kent Syverud didn’t mind advocating for halving professors’ salaries. He just stepped down to become Syracuse University’s president — for much higher pay. [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]

* You can sue Lady Gaga for overtime pay all you want, but you do not want to face her wrath. The pop star is due in court in early November where she’ll tell a judge “exactly what f**king happened.” [Daily Mail]

Despite my consistent exhortations that people should do as well as possible on the LSAT, I don’t think the LSAT is a particularly useful test. The LSAT, like all other standardized tests, is really an examination of past performance and learned ability to take the test. It doesn’t measure “raw” intelligence, however you want to define that term. It measures your ability to take the LSAT.

I had thought that your ability to do well on the LSAT would be predict your ability to do well on the bar exam. Again, not because of any intelligence measuring, but just because people who are good at standardized tests tend to continue to be good at standardized tests.

But perhaps I’ve been wrong. A new study suggests that LSAT performance isn’t the best indicator of future bar passage. Instead, passing the bar has a more direct correlation with your law school grades…

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Our readers love nothing better than law school rankings, so it was kind of the National Jurist to roll out its first-ever list of the Best Value private law schools. This new ranking comes in addition to its regular ranking of Best Value schools (which is usually dominated by public institutions of learning). These lists are usually released in alphabetical order, but this time, National Jurist assigned letter grades to each school due to a post-publication error. We’re off to a great start already.

The Best Value ranking typically takes into account the following criteria: tuition, cost of living, average student debt, the percentage of graduates employed nine months after graduation, and bar passage rates.

When the National Jurist created the Best Value rankings to “honor schools that took the cost of legal education seriously,” why choose to highlight private law schools at a time when tuition is higher than ever?

We’ll explore possible answers to that question, as well as reveal the rankings, after the jump…

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Sergio Garcia (not the racist golfer) has lived in California most of his life. He worked his way through law school and then took and passed the California bar exam on the first try.

Yesterday, the California Supreme Court heard argument on whether Garcia could be admitted to practice law.

Sergio Garcia was brought to the United States when he was 17 months old. The California justices must decide whether an undocumented immigrant can be admitted. The State of California says yes. The Obama Administration says no.

The news coverage of the case implies that California has the equities on its side while the Obama Administration has the law.

It’s a tidy narrative for a story, but the media hasn’t really focused on the briefs, because when you actually unpack the statute the administration cites, it requires tortured mental gymnastics to support rejecting Garcia’s application….

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It’s been a little more than a month since the administration of the July 2013 bar exam reached its conclusion, and the most epic of waiting games has begun. Test takers are anxiously biding their time until their respective state bars decide to tell them their fates.

Some people have already received their results. Over the long holiday weekend, we received several emails about the results for the North Carolina exam — which is impressive considering that last summer, the state board of law examiners couldn’t even keep the lights on during the exam. North Carolina usually has the quickest turn around time on bar exam results, averaging about four weeks between the time the exam ends and the reporting of results.

But unfortunately, not all test takers are so lucky. Some states take months upon months to get their results out to bar examinees, and the wait is torture. Why the hell does the grading process take so long?

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The day after the July 2013 bar exam concluded nationwide, we broke the news about a young woman of Muslim faith who was taken to task by a proctor over her religious headwear, a hijab. The proctor didn’t approach the examinee before testing on the Massachusetts exam started, or even during the lunch break — instead, the proctor passed her a note during the morning session of the exam, instructing her to remove her headscarf (even though the examinee had already received approval to wear it).

To interrupt someone during the bar exam and break their concentration over something that could’ve been taken care of when testing was not in session is not only incredibly rude, but also incredibly stupid. This is a professional exam that will determine if and when a person will be able to start their legal career. Why do something that could put their chances of passing in jeopardy? On top of that, why do something that could make it look like this was religiously motivated? This was a bad move on many levels.

From the Council on American-Islamic Relations to legal academics to the internet at large, people were upset about the way that the incident unfolded. Now the state is doing something about it…

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