Bar Exams

Doesn’t this road just scream ‘Let’s go take a bar exam’?

So, in case you haven’t heard, they’re having a bit of weather in the middle west today. It’s bad. The climate Gods continue to be angry at us.

The impending snowstorm didn’t stop the good people of Missouri from trying to hold their February bar exam today. Because, I mean, just because we can make some predictions on what’s going to happen with the weather doesn’t mean we should do anything about it or adjust our plans in any way.

For at least one group of students, the infrastructure couldn’t cash the check the Missouri Board of Law Examiners wrote. Their power went out during the bar….

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We give law schools a lot of grief around here for being too expensive and not recognizing the true value of their product.

I’m new here and maybe not as jaded as others (read: Elie), but in a world where more and more Biglaw practical legal work is farmed out to temp attorneys, these sky-high tuitions are simply unwarranted. And for the most part, the ABA has backed them up.

But now the ABA has joined the chorus.

The ABA created the Task Force on the Future of Legal Education last year. Its two-year mission: to seek out new models for legal education. Well, they’re trying to turn in their report a year early (damn gunners!), and based on the testimony the committee collected there are some interesting ideas out there. But forgive my pessimism in thinking that this report will boldly go where pretty much every report on law schools has gone before.

But let’s look at the ideas that are out there….

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Some law schools want the bar to be so low they can crawl over it.

Whenever we ask the American Bar Association to make regulations with teeth that would actually improve the quality of legal education, the organization claims that law schools will sue them if they try.

The ABA has no stomach to seriously regulate its member institutions, but individual state bars also have authority to regulate the law schools in their jurisdictions. A new rule in California holds schools to a higher standard than the ABA is willing to impose.

So, of course, a California law school is suing 22 members of the State Committee of Bar Examiners over the new rule. They want to keep their rubber stamp of accreditation from the CBE, since they don’t yet have accreditation with the ABA.

If you think people running accredited law schools are willing to make spurious arguments to justify the value of legal education, wait till you see the stuff they try to pull at unaccredited law schools…

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* President Barack Obama recently nominated two attorneys for the Federal Circuit who are being referred to as “noteworthy” because of their ethnicity (Asian American) and sexual orientation (openly gay). Let’s hear three cheers for diversity! [Blog of Legal Times]

* Dewey & LeBoeuf and Howrey have something in common aside from going down in a gigantic ball of flames that rocked Biglaw as we know it. Both firms’ fine art collections will soon be auctioned off by Adam A. Weschler & Son Inc. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* There’s nothing like acting like the product you’re selling: MGA, the maker of Bratz dolls, would like to have Orrick’s $23 million arbitration award vacated because paying your legal bills is so passé. [The Recorder]

* We briefly noted California’s new bar passage mandate for state-accredited schools here, but now a law school is suing over it, claiming the bar examiners are “waging a vendetta” against it. [National Law Journal]

* The NCAA wants to get Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s suit over PSU’s Sandusky-related penalties tossed, with a harsh reminder that hurt feelings have absolutely nothing to do with antitrust law. [Bloomberg]

Tuition… a little off the top?

You’re not going to damage anybody’s health by having an unsanitary law practice, although there’s lots of times when you deal with a lawyer that you end up getting your hair cut pretty bad.

– Arizona Senator Rick Murphy, commenting on the reason why the bill he proposed, which would allow anyone to become a lawyer so long as they passed the bar exam (with or without having attended law school), is a good idea. If the bill were passed, cosmetologists would have more required hours of classroom training than lawyers.

For some people, passing the bar exam is really easy. Some people (ahem) can spend three years of law school with a BAC level approaching “flammable,” sober up for six weeks of BAR/BRI, pass the test, and move on with their lives. People who pass the bar aren’t necessarily “smart.” But they do well on standardized tests.

Other people have a real problem with the bar. Those people aren’t necessarily stupid or lazy. For the most part, bar failure happens to people who don’t standardize-test well and are pointlessly trying to memorize “all” the information instead of being taught how to prioritize the information they have.

Of course, people who don’t standardize-test well and have problems prioritizing information don’t suddenly start doing poorly on the bar exam. They probably lost points on the SAT, but maybe their raw intellectual capacity powered them through to a decent enough score. Maybe they did well at an average college, and then BOMBED the LSAT (which exists to punish people who don’t prioritize information correctly). So they end up going to a low-ranked law school, but they haven’t addressed their testing problems because they think the LSAT was just “one bad day.”

These kind of people spend three years making excuses for their LSAT scores, developing huge chips on their shoulders about how they’re just as smart as people who scored ten points higher (as if standardized tests give a damn about how smart you are), and figure they’ll rock out on the bar because, “Derp, I got an A in evidence, so I’ll ace that section, derp.” And then wham, the bar hits them upside the head, they fail, and they blame their law school, their professors, and the exam itself.

Since drops in bar passage rates make law schools look bad, one law school has an innovative approach to reach kids before they run into a bar exam buzzsaw. And it starts with giving them cash….

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This is cool with the Ninth Circuit.

* Lanny Breuer finally announced his retirement from the DOJ. He’s going back to the private sector, and perhaps Covington and Jenner & Block will duel to see which firm gets dibs. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* You may be wondering if it’s ever constitutional to testify in a drug cartel case while wearing a disguise — namely, a mustache, a wig, and sunglasses. Behold, the Ninth Circuit’s opinion! [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* It may be a new year, but suing Biglaw firms never seems to get old. From Blank Rome to White & Case, here’s a thrilling roundup of all suits that have made waves in 2013, a “lawsuit-palooza,” if you will. [Am Law Daily]

* “We are going through a revolution in law with a time bomb on our admissions books.” The entire law school dream is continuing to swirl down the drain at warp speed, and the New York Times is on it! [New York Times]

* Is anyone actually surprised that every single one of Jerry Sandusky’s post-conviction motions was flat-out denied? If so, then it seems you may be in very serious need of a 1-800-REALITY check. [Legal Intelligencer]

* George Zimmerman’s attorney asked a judge to delay his client’s trial because he claims the prosecution is causing problems. Also, he’d kind of like to get paid, but that’s neither here nor there. [Orlando Sentinel]

* If you weren’t aware, there was a law firm office shooting in Arizona yesterday, and one of the wounded is Mark Hummels, a partner with Osborn Maledon. Best wishes for a very speedy recovery! [Arizona Republic]

* When they tell you stop writing when time is called during the bar exam, you STOP FREAKING WRITING when time is called on the bar exam — unless you don’t like bar admission, of course. [National Law Journal]

* So, this happened over the weekend: Anonymous hacked the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s website and is threatening to release government secrets about the DOJ (and possibly all nine of our Supreme Court justices) unless the legal system is reformed. [CNET]

* A spoonful of sugar makes the lawyering go down? Apparently the best way to remind lawyers that they need to act civilly is through song. Or through Above the Law posts, but we aren’t in the habit of hosting sing-a-longs like the New York Inn of Court did. [Wall Street Journal]

* “[U]nless there are major changes in the legal industry,” law school administrators shouldn’t expect people to apply in droves, especially when they’re now fleeing like rats from a sinking ship. [National Law Journal]

* Arizona’s Supreme Court will allow people to take the bar exam after two years of study, but come on, the justices don’t want to jump the shark by allowing online law grads take the test, too. [East Valley Tribune]

* Tim Tebow got to trademark Tebowing, so why shouldn’t Colin Kaepernick get to trademark Kaepernicking? All the San Francisco 49ers quarterback wants to do is sell some inevitably overpriced t-shirts. [NBC Bay Area]

* An appeals court threw out two of Casey Anthony’s convictions, but her legal drama is far from over. The ex-MILF filed for bankruptcy to escape nearly $1 million in liabilities, including Jose Baez’s legal fees. [CNN]

* “Given health care, I don’t care if he speaks in tongues.” Chief Justice John Roberts botched Barack Obama’s presidential oath at his first inauguration, but this time he managed to get it right. [New York Times]

* What was more important to Justice Sonia Sotomayor than swearing in Joe Biden as VP at noon on Sunday? Signing books at Barnes & Noble in New York City. Not-so wise Latina. [Los Angeles Times]

* D.C. Biglaw firms — like Holland & Knight, Covington, K&L Gates, and Jones Day — allowed others to bask in their prestige at their swanky inauguration parties. [Capital Business / Washington Post]

* It’s been 40 years since SCOTUS made its ruling in Roe v. Wade, and this is what we’ve got to show for it: a deep moral divide over women being able to do what they want with their own bodies. [Huffington Post]

* The latest weapon in the fight against terrorism is the legal system. The Second Circuit recently issued a major blow to those seeking to finance militant attacks in secret. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* “Firms don’t just hire a body anymore.” The 2012 BLS jobs data is in, and if you thought employment in the legal sector was going to magically bounce back to pre-recession levels, you were delusional. [Am Law Daily]

* Three months have come and gone since Hurricane Sandy rocked law firm life as we know it in Manhattan, but firms like Fragomen and Gordon & Rees are still stuck in temporary offices. [New York Law Journal]

* This seems like it may be too good to be true, but it looks like New York’s chief judge may be on board to grant law students bar eligibility after the completion of only two years of law school. [National Law Journal]

* Law professors may soon be in for a nasty surprise when it comes to their salaries if their schools follow Vermont Law’s lead and remove them as salaried employees, paying only on a part-time basis. [Valley News]

* Resorting to a life of crime to pay off your law school debt is never a good thing — unless you’re doing it while wearing a Bucky Badger hat. We’ll have more on these allegations later. [Wisconsin State Journal]

Don’t be a sucker!

* According to the Second Circuit, the long arm of the law doesn’t extend to the middle finger. You can’t just go around arresting dudes for flipping you the bird. [U.S. Second Circuit / FindLaw]

* President Obama jetted off to Hawaii before he could sign the fiscal cliff bill, so he ordered it be signed by autopen. Of course, people are losing their minds over it. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Should we scrap the Constitution? Georgetown Law professor Louis Seidman continues to advocate for constitutional disobedience in this epic ConLaw throwdown. [HuffPost Live]

* Don’t celebrate your increase in California bar passage points yet. The state bar changed its tune, and a 40% pass rate is the new standard. That shouldn’t be hard, eh TJSL? [California Bar Journal]

* One of our former columnists, Jay Shepherd, has a great way to calculate what your actual hourly rate should be, if you don’t mind working for just pennies a day. Most lawyers would mind. [jayshep]

* For the love of God, even Gawker knows that going to law school these days is a fool’s errand, or in their own words: “IT’S A SUCKER’S BET. A CLEAR SUCKER’S BET.” Come on, stop being suckers. :( [Gawker]

* If you’d like to hear Dean Lawrence Mitchell of NYT op-ed fame sound off on why there isn’t a lawyer oversupply problem, and why it isn’t his job to get law students jobs, we’ve got a video for you to watch….

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