Bar Exams

If you think about it, there shouldn’t be any bar exam administrative debacles. Something like ExamSoft should never be allowed to happen. Every state has its own board of law examiners, and these folks simply have to administer and score a test. It’s amazing that every year, at almost every administration of the bar exam, there is some kind of comic failure from those in charge of administering the exam.

Of all the bar exam failures we’ve covered, this one is the most cruel. It’s terrible to tell students that they’ve passed the bar when they actually failed. But telling them the night before the swearing-in ceremony is among the worst things I’ve ever heard….

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I have been helping students pass the bar exam for over four decades. Before me, my father invented the modern bar review course in the 1940s. I mention this so you know that it is coming from good authority when I tell you the secret that those of us in the bar review industry don’t want you to know.

That secret: A bar review course cannot relatively improve your chances of passing the bar exam.

Bar review marketing is gearing up across the country on every law school campus, with bar review reps trying to entice students with giveaways and discounts. But no amount of bar-review-branded swag will improve your chance of passing over your GPA rank at time of graduation.

What’s the best predictor of success on the bar exam?

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Mike Sorrentino

* Per the First Circuit, plaintiffs who successfully challenge the Defense of Marriage Act in court aren’t entitled to attorneys’ fees. The Department of Justice had no comment. [National Law Journal]

* Florida Coastal Law finished second-to-last in bar passage for the July 2014 exam, with 58% of grads passing. It was one of Florida Coastal’s worst performances to date. [Florida Times-Union]

* ASU Law got a $10M donation, its largest ever. “The remarkable thing about it is we didn’t ask him for it,” says the dean, which is a slightly better response than Drexel’s dean had. [The Republic]

* Much to his defense team’s chagrin, accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s trial will remain in Boston. The media spectacle is set to begin in January 2015. [New York Times]

* Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino of Jersey Shore fame was indicted on tax fraud charges to the tune of $8.9M. He pleaded not guilty yesterday afternoon. There aren’t tanning beds in jail. :( [Asbury Park Press]


I have a great strategy for passing the bar: write it in Ontario. The Law Society of Upper Canada (our governing body) doesn’t publish official statistics, but it is anecdotally reported that 90% of takers pass in Ontario. Contrast that with New York, where approximately 30 to 40% of takers fail in any given year. That’s a bloodbath.

The system has changed a bit since I wrote, but let me take you back in time to 2002. I had just graduated from Queen’s law school in picturesque Kingston, Ontario. I then had to face something called Bar School. That’s four months of sitting in a stifling classroom during the beautiful and inviting months of May, June, July, and August. Don’t feel bad for me — you’ll see why in a second….

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* Lawyer busted for impersonating a Transformer. On that note, what would be the best name for a Transformer lawyer? Atticus Prime? L-Woods? Paddotron, who transforms into a clock that only measures tenths of an hour? [Jonathan Turley]

* Did you think your studying for the MBE could have used more original songs as study aids? Well, if so, you’re in luck because there’s an app called Study Songs that sets legal rules to music to help you remember. [Bar Exam Toolbox]

* New York courts are getting more and more fed up with the lack of relief available when lenders flaunt the law. [New York Law Journal]

* We’ve talked about litigation financing in the abstract before, but how can litigation financing help injured workers specifically? [LFC360]

* A former U.S. Attorney pleads guilty to not paying his taxes for years. [Las Vegas Review-Journal]

* In sad news, Sher Kung — part of the trial team that took down the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and recently of Perkins Coie — was killed in a cycling accident on Friday. [Seattle Times]

Almost a month after ExamSoft treated us to the biggest bar exam disaster ever, they’ve issued an apology. Well, that’s something. One would have expected this within hours of the debacle that the Internet dubbed #Barghazi. Maybe it was written in July and it’s just taken this long for the ExamSoft software to load it up.

Despite calls that ExamSoft needs to bite the bullet and refund student money over this mishap and pending legal claims, ExamSoft is content to offer a straight-forward “oops, our bad,” and carry on like nothing ever happened.

Is this apology enough? Do the victims of this snafu deserve more?

Are all of you just overreacting?

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Now that the July 2014 administration of the bar exam is in the books, everyone can commiserate over the mental anguish they went through while cramming hundreds upon hundreds of pages of otherwise useless legal knowledge into their brains.

When it came to the bar exam, you weren’t studying. As it turns out, you were stuDYING. Given how tedious the entire process was, it must’ve sometimes been difficult to stay sane.

This girl found a way to keep herself from losing her mind — barely — and we’re going to show you how…

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In the class that Florida Coastal admitted in 2013, more than half the students were unlikely to ever pass the bar.

– Professor Paul Campos of Colorado Law, in a feature essay published by The Atlantic about the dangers of attending for-profit law schools like those owned by InfiLaw — namely Florida Coastal School of Law, Arizona Summit Law School, and Charlotte School of Law.

(Remember when a dean candidate was thrown out of Florida Coastal because he suggested the school was doing a disservice to its students? We’ve got his name. If you’re interested, keep reading to find out who he is.)

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Adam R. Banner explains how the bar exam is a microcosm for legal practice as a whole.

Just took your state’s bar exam? Good Luck.

I remember hearing that same ominous warning from many of the attorneys in my community directly after taking the Oklahoma bar exam. Now, I wasn’t TOO worried about my prospects for future employment. I was already set on hanging my own shingle, and I was full of naivety with a dash of piss and vinegar. I had practiced (with a limited license) through the local public defender’s office, and I had a part-time gig interning for another solo practitioner. I chose this set-up to help pay my way through school, but also to gain any type of experience I could since I only really knew two things in law school: criminal procedure, and the fact that I needed some courtroom experience and some small-business guidance. I was lucky enough to get both.

That isn’t the case for everyone. I distinctly remember one of my buddies (a fellow class mate) walking up to me a few days before graduation and asking me if I knew of any places that were hiring associates. I didn’t, so I asked him if he was interning anywhere.

He wasn’t.

Continue reading at the ATL Career Center…

Well, it’s only taken a week for ExamSoft to go from a random company whose name you couldn’t remember one week after the bar exam to “ExamSoft: Destroyer Of Worlds.” Today we can report that the first lawsuit has been filed against the company. It won’t be the last.

This is going to be a fun ride, and we are only at the beginning. By next week I predict the counter-narrative to get rolling. Maybe a dean will pen a New York Times op-ed about how kids these days, with their computers and text machines and MyBooks, don’t know how to take “personal responsibility.” Somebody will say that it is the test takers’ fault, for buying a program and having the audacity to believe that it would work as intended.

Looking deeper into my crystal taco, as lawsuits proliferate, there will be a circuit split. The Second and the Seventh will affirm decisions against ExamSoft, while the Third and Fifth will reverse. The Third will say that we need to learn a powerful lesson about our over-reliance on technology, while the Fifth will hold that a reasonable person wouldn’t try to write an essay in the clouds: “that’s pure hogwash,” it’ll say.

Eventually this will get to the Supreme Court, which will rule, 5-4, to relieve ExamSoft of liability. Writing for the majority, Justice Alito will argue: “When a person, such as ExamSoft, fails so spectacularly in its duties, the key question is to determine if that person is a man or a woman. If male, the person’s own sense of shame will be punishment enough. But if female, the Court must teach a lasting lesson. Here, we find ExamSoft to be a male person, and therefore must reverse the trial courts. The students should clearly incorporate themselves if they wish to pursue further remedies.” Concurring in part, Scalia will tell us that the bar has become too easy of a test and ExamSoft merely introduced a greater barrier to entry. Breyer’s dissent will be something like: “I was robbed once just like these test takers and, goodness gracious, it was scary.”

Okay, you’re welcome. Now that we all know where this thing is going, we can savor the wonderful journey together. Let’s look at the first lawsuit….

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