Bar Exams

Back in November, when we broke the news about the release of the California bar results from the July 2012 administration of the exam, after celebrating their success or bemoaning their failure, people immediately wanted to know about the pass rates by law school. Alas, the only information we had at the time was about the overall pass rate — 55.3 percent. The pass rate was 68 percent for all first-time takers.

We also knew about the overall pass rates for first-time takers who attended ABA-accredited law schools, both in-state (77 percent) and out-of-state (64 percent). But now, just a little more than a month later, we know all of the individual California bar exam pass rates for law schools nationwide.

Last year, we praised USC Law for its top performance on the exam. But this year, we’ve got a different victor. Which law school took home the glory this time around?

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Catch Me If You Can is a fun movie. Tom Hanks has a delightful Boston accent that really captures the “Jesus Christ, I can’t believe people talk like this” aspect of the sounds. Leonardo DiCaprio’s portrayal of teenage con-man Frank Abagnale Jr. is fun and entertaining. And there’s a Chris Walken sighting.

In the movie, Hanks’s FBI Agent, Carl Hanratty, chases after Abagnale as he forges checks, degrees, and a number of professions. One thing Hanratty can’t figure out is how Agagnale “faked” his way through the Louisiana Bar Exam and gained legal credentials. When Hanratty finally collars Abagnale (SPOILER ALERT: this movie came out in 2002), the con man revels that he didn’t “cheat” on the bar exam, he just studied “for two weeks and passed.”

For many lawyers, this was an anticlimactic end to a running joke in the movie. With all due respect to people who can’t pass the Louisiana bar, passing the Louisiana bar is not particularly hard (despite the test’s unusual length and civil-law components). I don’t know if you can do it in two weeks. But in a month? In six weeks? Even without going to law school, I’m not sure there is a bar exam in the country that is so hard that a reasonably intelligent person couldn’t pass it with intense study over a few months. Again, they’re not really teaching you what you need to do as a lawyer in law school, they’re just messing with how you think.

It turns out that the real life Frank Abagnale Jr. passed the LA Bar on his third try. But there wasn’t any deception involved, he eventually just passed the test. Once he earned the credentials, Abagnale says that pretending to be a lawyer was one of the easiest things to fake.

He’s not wrong…

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Unlike when the New York bar exam results were released in early November, we’re not experiencing a hurricane-induced blackout. But today, some people might wish that they were experiencing a different kind of hurricane-induced blackout (one that involves alcohol, not nature), because we’ve finally got a list of the passage rates for the July 2012 administration of the New York bar exam by law school.

Last year, more than half of the state’s law schools were able to improve their pass rates over the prior year’s results. This year, more than half of the state’s law schools saw a decline in their pass rates, and in some cases, epically so. The state’s pass rate for first-time takers dropped a whole percentage point, due in part to the law schools’ reversal in fortune.

So which law schools’ pass rates tumbled, and by how much?

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* As an in-house compliance officer, there’s only one guarantee: you’ll be paid, and you’ll be paid quite well — we’re talking like six-figure salaries here. Regulatory corporate compliance, on the other hand, isn’t such a surefire thing. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* When it comes to employment data, this law dean claims that using full-time, long-term positions where bar passage is required as a standard to measure success in the employment market is “grossly misleading.” Uhh, come on, seriously? [Am Law Daily]

* “Bar passes and jobs are inextricably tied,” but eight of New York’s 15 law schools had lower bar passage rates than last year for the July exam. Guess which school came in dead last place. [New York Law Journal]

* You know, it may actually be a good thing for a monk to apply to law school right now. It can’t get much worse; after all, the guy’s already taken a vow of poverty. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* Dominique Strauss-Kahn officially settled the sexual assault civil lawsuit that was filed against him by Nafissatou Diallo. Given that she thanked “everybody all over the world,” it was probably a nice payout. [CNN]

* Steven Keeva, a pioneer in work/life balance publications for lawyers, RIP. [ABA Journal]

I’d like this story a lot better if it was about an associate busted for using a fake disability to get extra time, instead of just about an associate getting busted for not actually having whatever BS affliction the kids are using these days. But I guess this is a start.

A Hastings Law graduate and former summer associate at Morrison & Foerster was nailed for faking an unnamed disability to get more time on the California bar exam.

In related news, I’ll now be marketing myself as a disability-faker detector. I have a simple methodology for determining fakers, and I’m not afraid to share it. My system is: if you can fake it so well that I can’t tell the difference, then it’s not a real disability that requires extra time in the first place!

I’ll be coming to a bar testing center near you to show my proven method in action…

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Overworked and underpaid.

* “Why drag us into it?” Constitutional or not, it seems that not even the D.C. Circuit wants to deal with the political hot mess that’s been caused by President Barack Obama’s recess appointments. [National Law Journal]

* There’s something (allegedly) rotten in the state of Texas: Bickel & Brewer was booted from a multi-million dollar lawsuit due to accusations that the firm paid top dollar for insider information. [Dallas Morning News (sub. req.)]

* There are many more women in the legal profession these days than there were 40 years ago, but — surprise, surprise, here’s a shocker — they’re still getting paid less than their male counterparts. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* And here’s today’s opportunity to beat the horse that just won’t die. This law professor says he pities those who buy into the media’s law school scam narrative, while in reality, most would pity the many unemployed graduates of his law school. [Huffington Post]

* Here’s a protip for the February bar: don’t fake a disability to get extra time. Even if you end up passing, the bar examiners will find out and pretty much ruin your life. Just ask this UC Hastings Law grad. [Am Law Daily]

* “Also, you probably shouldn’t bring pot with you to the federal courthouse (or any other federal property).” Umm, come on, were the Washington police officers who created this marijuana guidebook high? [CNN]

Yesterday, I reiterated the point that the third year of law school is largely useless. Such a position is not novel. Recently, NYU Law announced a big change to its 3L curriculum because, in part, the current use of the time is silly.

But even changes to the curriculum still contemplate making most students waste another year of tuition while they wait to take the bar and start their job search in earnest.

Out in Arizona (I’m still allowed to write about Arizona without having to prove my status, right?), some are pressuring the state supreme court to skip ahead and allow 3Ls to sit for the bar exam in February. They argue that the change will allow students to pass the bar before they graduate; that way they don’t have to wait until the fall to find out if they’ve passed the bar in a state where there aren’t a lot of jobs for students who have their bar passage “pending.”

Sounds like a great idea, so of course some people have a problem with it. You know, because then students will spend time caring about the bar during their third year, instead of reading Above the Law in class…

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There’s no gay bar at the Supreme Court right now.

* I’m not sure that it’s legal to tag the cars of people who park poorly, but it’s certainly satisfying. Honestly, every time I see one of those commercials where the dude needs freaking birds to park his “I’ve given up on life” minivan-SUV, I want to scream, “You could act like a man!” [Legal Blog Watch]

* SCOTUS is acting like an old college roommate who just came out is inviting them to a gay bar, and they’re trying to politely decline without looking like raging homophobes. [SCOTUSblog]

* To all the people who didn’t pass the California bar exam, here’s a guy who did it while only studying for 100 hours. Yeah. So… umm, I didn’t really think this blurb through. [Blake Masters]

* Do lawyers need to “love” their clients? Come on, isn’t loving the money they give you enough? [Underdog]

* Jason Whitlock took the Jovan Belcher and put the focus exactly where it should be, on our gun laws. Then Bob Costas blew a big megaphone on Sunday Night Football. [Fox Sports]

* It’s funny, I’m against sex offender registries because even though sex crimes are heinous, registries are bad things that create second-class citizens and tend to unfairly lump people who didn’t commit the worst stuff in with disgusting humans. That means I should probably be against animal abuse registries too, but man I don’t think animal abusers suffer nearly enough. So, whatever, I’m a hypocrite. I’m a hypocrite who cares more about dogs than children. [Simple Justice]

* Better late than never: congratulations to everyone who passed the New Jersey bar exam. You’re just in time to get in on some Sandy class-action litigation. [New Jersey Board of Bar Examiners]

* Congratulations to all honorees from the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association conference in D.C. last weekend — including, but not limited to, the Best Lawyers Under 40. [NAPABA]

* And congrats to Professor Sherrilyn Ifill, incoming president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. [Concurring Opinions]

* Does every bra made in America have Gloria Allred’s phone number sewn into it? [WSJ Law Blog]

* Who is “Portfolio Manager A” in the latest major insider-trading scandal? [Dealbreaker]

* You don’t need to be a dog lover to find these allegations abhorrent. [Alabama Live]

* Want to avoid dating Democrats (or Republicans)? There’s an app — okay, two websites — for that. [Jezebel]

* After the jump, Jeffrey Toobin and Alan Dershowitz discuss Obamacare….

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Happy Friday, everyone! The results of the July 2012 administration of the California bar exam have been released — and while the actual results were scheduled for mailing today, you can hop online right now to see if your name is on the pass list.

Keep reading for a link to the results page, and some statistics from this summer’s exam….

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