Bar Exams

On April 1st, first thing in the morning, a number of law students all across the state of Illinois received a forwarded message that the upcoming administration of the Illinois Bar Exam would be “harder” than it has been in the past. Students were told that the Illinois Supreme Court had “resolved” to make the exam more difficult, and the students were exhorted to make the appropriate preparations for the exam.

The email found its way into my inbox, but I largely ignored it. April 1st, April Fool’s Day, I’ve been doing this internet thing for a while now. I didn’t believe that a law professor randomly decided to freak out the entire law student population of Illinois.

But the joke is on me… and Illinois Bar takers. The test is going to be graded with more rigor this year, in an attempt to make it harder….

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In a story that Ethan Bronner of the New York Times will repackage nine months from now and pretend like it is new, the National Law Journal tells us that two for-profit law schools are offering refunds to students who can’t pass the bar.

It only sounds nice if you don’t read the fine print, though in fairness, people who go to for-profit law schools are probably not the best at even identifying the fine print, much less at reading it and understanding how it might apply to their lives.

Still, I don’t know what kind of mathematically challenged people think that getting a $10K refund after spending nearly $120K to go to law school and not passing the bar is a good deal….

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Hey 2Ls, you might want to pay attention to this one. You’re really going to want to pass the July 2014 Bar Exam, because by February 2015 the exam is going to be new.

Really new. In the biggest change to the bar exam in decades, the February 2015 exam will have a new section: Civil Procedure.

I’ll pause now until the groaning subsides….

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Taking the bar shouldn’t be like running in the Iditarod.

My God, I am glad I wasn’t cast down with the sodomites and forced to take the February administration of the bar exam. Apparently, not only does February have the usual amount of administrative errors, but some of the students who take the February exam are downright gross.

Yesterday, we told you about the power outage during the Missouri bar exam. We need to close the loop on that because the power came back on, but the technology did not.

Still, at least the people in Missouri maintained basic human civility. You can’t say the same for the test takers in Texas….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Bar Exam Horror Stories: Losing Power > Losing Bladder Control”

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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