Bar Exam

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?

It’s impossible to know what would have happened if I had done something differently. Ultimately, I have what was, and remains, most important to me — a happy, healthy son.

Elana Nightingale Dawson, the recent Northwestern Law graduate who went into active labor during the bar exam, commenting on the good news of her passing the Illinois bar.

Poor little white boy.

According to a new study by UCLA law professor Richard Sander, discussed in an article in the Denver University Law Review, “the vast majority of American law students come from relatively elite backgrounds; this is especially true at the most prestigious law schools, where only five percent of all students come from families whose SES [socioeconomic status] is in the bottom half of the national distribution.”

In other breaking news, studies show that the vast majority of people who get into water emerge wet.

It’s beyond obvious that American law schools favor the elite. Talent will take you far, but having a financially sound family will take you farther. Professor Sander — whose prior research on law school prestige generated lots of buzz last year — argues that schools should use socioeconomic factors as a partial substitute for racial preferences.

Well, that’s a false choice if I ever heard one. Why can’t we have both socioeconomic and race-based affirmative action? Look, you can accuse me of playing the “race card” if you want to, but I’m just trying to figure out a way to help white people get into law school….

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If you want to go to law school but can’t get into an ABA-accredited one, something is wrong with you. Sorry. Maybe you were raped by a scantron sheet when you were young or a freak boating accident left you unable to read brochures, but something is not right if you can’t get into law school but really want to.

And I really don’t care if you had some kind of culturally difficult upbringing or have some kind of trumped-up attention disorder or if you are a deaf-freaking-mute, because I’m sure that intelligent abused orphaned deaf-mutes suffering from ADHD with Daddy issues can easily get into accredited law schools, given the totally minimum barriers to entry into such programs. You have to fill out some forms and take a multiple choice exam without scoring significantly worse than random chance, and you’re in!

A while ago, The Economist came out with an article that we’re just circling back to now. It talked about a book written by Clifford Winston and Robert Crandall, of the Brookings Institution, and Vikram Maheshri, of the University of Houston, in which they argue that there is actually an undersupply of American attorneys, due to the stiff barriers to entry into the profession.

I’m not sure that these guys understand that the barriers to entry — such as they are — aren’t just there to protect lawyer salaries. Lawyers are trying to protect the consumers of legal services too…

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We know how much our readers love rankings, so as we mentioned in Morning Docket, the National Jurist has released the fifth annual list of the 60 Best Value law schools in its preLaw magazine. As it stands, the list remains unranked, but the final grades for the honor roll are expected in October.

The Best Value ranking typically 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.

But this year, the National Jurist made some adjustments to its rankings methodology to account for “fairness.” It now takes into account averages for bar passage rates and post-graduation employment over the past two years. And even if a law school didn’t meet one of these important standards, the school wasn’t automatically excluded from consideration. Everyone gets a trophy in this year’s Best Value rankings.

You may be surprised at some of the law schools that made this year’s Best Value honor roll. Check and see if your school made the list, after the jump….

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LeRoy Pernell

When the statistics tell you that virtually every black college will be in noncompliance, it’s a matter of grave concern.

LeRoy Pernell, dean of Florida A&M University College of Law, commenting on the possibility of a more stringent ABA bar passage requirement for law schools.

(At present, to remain in good standing with the ABA, at least 75 percent of a law school’s graduates taking the bar in the school’s state must pass for at least three of the past five years. The new ABA proposal calls for an 80 percent bar passage rate or a rate no more than 10 percentage points lower than other law schools in the state.)

Stephen McDaniel

We realize some of you are getting Stephen McDaniel fatigue. We apologize if that’s the case, but CHECK YOU CALENDAR: it’s August.

Aside from the stock market craziness that could signal a second recession, and perhaps the London riots, we are in a slow news period. And the story of Stephen Mark McDaniel, the 25-year-old Mercer Law School graduate accused of killing a comely classmate, Lauren Giddings, is just about the most interesting story out there.

If you’re not interested in this story, nobody is forcing you to read our coverage (which we tend to put up after regular business hours anyway). But if you are as interested in this fascinating case as we are — and our traffic stats suggest that you are very, very interested — then read on for the latest developments….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “More on Stephen McDaniel: A Missing Bar Prep Session, and Possible Fiber Evidence”

If you took the bar exam last month, you might be trying hard to forget the experience, or you might be flying far, far away on an exotic vacation. Maybe you are counting the days until results come out in November, or maybe you’re frantically searching for employment before those organ bill collectors start knocking.

This is the final installment of the Bar Review Diaries. We hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into the lives of three recent law school graduates as they prepared for the bar.

Let’s check in one last time with Mariah, Christopher and Mike, to see where they are headed next.

And if anyone has cool bar trips coming up or strange end-of-summer plans, please share them with us in the comments….

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The bar exam has come and gone. Our esteemed Bar Review Diarists have lived to tell the tale, and thank goodness none of them fainted or had a baby during the test.

But as usual, Mike, Mariah and Christopher also had their fair share of adventures. Keep reading to see how a soggy sweater and lines to nowhere are just normal parts of taking the bar…

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