Bar Exam

Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.” In contrast, Thomas Jefferson School of Law does not tremble before the toothless authority of the ABA. In fact, the school feels free to respond to utter institutional FAIL with peevish blame-shifting. Either TJSL has a serious problem with its admissions standards or it fails students once they arrive. Or some combo platter thereof. Does it matter? Let’s all stipulate that this is a “bad thing.” But what, if anything, should be done?

There are obviously a range of legal/societal stances toward the treatment of “bad things.” Bad things like cigarettes are legal but have mandatory warning labels. Bad things like the New York Lottery are just a Darwinian tax on the ignorant. Predatory subprime mortgage lenders are subject to a patchwork of federal and state laws. Ponzi schemers face criminal fraud charges. Where a law school charging $120,000 for a dubious product fits into the scheme of bad things is open to debate. So we reader-sourced the question. Last week, we conducted a research poll asking:

• Should the ABA impose national minimum LSAT and/or GPA standards for entry into accredited law schools?
• In what range should the LSAT & GPA cutoffs be?
• Should law schools lose their accreditation if their graduates’ bar passage rates fall below a certain threshold?
• Below what level should a school’s accreditation be in jeopardy?

After the jump, you tell us whether and where the lines should be drawn….

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The picturesque Richard H. Chambers Courthouse in Pasadena, home of the Ninth Circuit.

California has released some macro-level results from the July 2011 administration of the bar exam. The California bar is notoriously difficult, and every year we like to take a look at which schools prepared their students well for the exam, and which schools did not.

Last year, the overall pass rates were 68.3% for all takers and 75.2% for graduates of the twenty ABA-approved law schools in California. This year, overall pass rates clocked in at 67.7%, while students who went to ABA-accredited law schools in California passed at a 76.2% clip.

But you might be surprised at which California law school had the best passage rate on the California bar. Hint: it’s not Stanford, or Boalt Hall, or UCLA….

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Johnathan Perkins

When it comes to the protagonists of 2011′s biggest legal stories, our readers want to know: Where are they now? Last week, for example, we brought you an update on Casey Anthony, which generated keen interest (and traffic).

The recent alleged misadventures of certain UVA Law School students — students accused of breaking and entering, students accused of bothering bikers (to be fair, some bikers are obnoxious and deserve what they get) — have caused commentators to wonder: Whatever happened to Johnathan Perkins?

Johnathan Perkins was the then-3L at UVA Law who confessed to fabricating a tale of racial harassment by university police. As a result of his dishonesty, did he have to go before UVA’s famously strict Honor Committee? Did he end up getting his law degree? There was some ambiguity over whether he would graduate.

We have an update, based on a statement from the dean of the law school….

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* Apprenticeship programs sound great (especially to Lat), but will they help you to become a lawyer? Of course they will, but only if you don’t mind failing the bar exam a few times. [National Law Journal]

* According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 100 jobs were added to legal sector in November. Cue unemployed lawyers singing: “Santa baby, slip a law job under the tree, for me?” [Am Law Daily]

* Things you can sell as a practicing attorney: your soul, your dignity, and your standards. Things you can’t sell as a practicing attorney: babies (but it sure is a great way to abort your career). [Daily Mail]

* When you earn $1.50 in attorney’s fees, it’s just not worth it to be nice. Something to remember before you take out six figures of loan debt to become a public interest lawyer. [Wall Street Journal]

* A lesson to be learned by all mothers-in-law: you do not question a man’s sexual prowess, even if there’s a chance that he might be shooting blanks. [New York Post]

Last night, we asked why the New Jersey Bar results were late. Today, they’re up by candidate ID.

Anything else we can help you with today?

UPDATE (10:50 AM): Remember the NJ woman who passed out cold in the middle of the test? Find out if she passed, after the jump.

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Let a thousand law schools bloom?

Critics of the current legal-education model, including my colleague Elie Mystal, have accused the American Bar Association of failing to uphold sufficiently stringent accreditation standards. ABA-accredited law schools proliferate, even though thousands of law school graduates find themselves unemployed or underemployed.

The ABA was recently chided by the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity for various alleged deficiencies in the ABA’s exercise of its accreditation power (for example, failure to consider student-loan default rates in assessing programs). Politicians such as Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Charles Grassley (R-IA), and Tom Coburn (R-OK) have also raised questions about whether there are too many law schools and law school graduates, especially in light of the still-challenging legal job market.

In light of this debate, I was eager to attend a panel at the Federalist Society’s National Lawyers Convention on the subject of law school accreditation….

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Back in August, we reported on National Jurist’s fifth annual list of the 60 Best Value law schools. The Best Value ranking system takes into account the following criteria: in-state tuition, average student debt, the percentage of graduates employed nine months after graduation, and bar passage rates.

Two months ago, the list was unranked, but the final tallies for the honor roll have now arrived. As in years past, in addition to the rankings, National Jurist has given letter grades to the rest of the schools on the list, ranging from A- to F. Wouldn’t you hate to be a student or an alumnus of a law school with a failing grade?

Check and see if your school made the grade, after the jump….

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The thought of a Texan passing the bar exam and then shooting two pistols up in the air like a Simpsons character makes me happy.

The reality of a Texan shooting bullets up in the air that come down and injure somebody, and then not going to jail for such reckless behavior, is why we have Texan lawyers.

Congratulations, Lone Star State: your bar results are out.

If you didn’t pass, don’t worry, keep shootin’ and eventually you’ll hit something…

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Even a caveman needed to go to law school after he thawed out.

It’s the danger of working in a profession that few people respect. The general public understands that not everybody can practice medicine: performing surgeries, prescribing drugs, and even giving advice about surgeries and drugs are things best left to “professionals.” Or look at accountants. People want to have one who is “certified” because, well, math is hard.

But lawyers? Annoying, money grubbing, bastard lawyers? Hell, anybody can do that. That’s what the general public thinks: anybody who is anal and can read can be a lawyer.

And because of that, occasionally lawyers have to deal with op-eds like the one just featured in the New York Times. Clifford Winston of the Brookings Institution argues that everybody should be allowed to practice law.

Seriously, everybody. No law school, no bar exam, if you want to do legal work, go right ahead. If you want to charge people for your uneducated legal advice, feel free!

Somehow Winston believes that allowing untrained dumbasses to take advantage of poor people who don’t know any better will magically help poor people….

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Today, we have news that both Virginia and Pennsyltucky Pennsylvania have released the results of the July 2011 bar exam. Our congratulations go out to everyone who passed. And for those who didn’t, better luck next time (but on the upside, it’s Friday, so it wouldn’t be completely inappropriate for you to drink yourself into a stupor today).

Here’s an open thread for discussion of July 2011 bar exam results from Pennsylvania, Virginia, and any other states that have already announced their results….

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Pennsylvania, Virginia — any others?

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