Bar Exams

Yesterday, Florida released the results of the February 2014 Bar Exam. At least they thought they did. Many people were disappointed when they learned that they failed.

Then, a few hours later, Florida told people to “double-check” their exam results. Some of the people who thought they failed actually passed. Isn’t that a dream of every failed test taker? “Oh, the graders must have made a mistake, I’m sure I passed.”

See, Florida really is a place where dreams come true. It’s the Incompetent Kingdom…

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Non-lawyers are often surprised to learn of the lockstep salary schemes of large law firms and the near-perfect information we have about them. (Recall Kevin Drum’s befuddlement at the bi-modal distribution of law graduate salaries and the “weird cultural collusion” it suggested.) Even annual bonuses are frequently spelled out in what amounts to public memoranda and are typically some variation of the “market” dictated by our Cravath overlords. Of course, there are some “black box” firms and a few gilded outliers such as Wachtell Lipton or Boies Schiller, but generally speaking, the world of large firms practices a degree of relative transparency around compensation that is unsurpassed outside the public sector.

In order to distinguish among firms, we have to look to the margins. For example, law firms vary quite a bit when it comes to paying for the bar and living expenses of incoming associates. Some firms may reimburse for covered expenses after the fact; others may pay some expenses directly to the provider. Some may give a stipend to cover living expenses, whereas others may offer the ability to take out an advance on salary.

Greater transparency (or, at least, aggregated information) on these questions might make one firm’s offer more attractive than another’s, or perhaps even give an offeree some basis for negotiating a package upgrade (but of course tread very lightly there)….

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Could this be the bar exam bandit?

Bar exam applications suck (believe me, I know — I’ve had to fill out quite a few of them). Bar applicants need to supply every single piece of personal information imaginable, from their birthday and Social Security number to their 10-year work history. If anyone with criminal intent ever got their hands on that information, we can’t even begin to describe how screwed those poor bar applicants would be.

As it turns out, some bar applicants are getting a taste of what it feels like to be violated by a state bar outside of a timed test-taking situation.

Which state bar just exposed an untold number of exam applicants to identity theft due to a break-in?

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It’s fun to look at lists of bar exam passers. You can celebrate the success of your friends and derive schadenfreude from the failure of your enemies. And you can marvel or laugh at the names that some people have been saddled with by their parents.

We recently learned about two bar passers with such wacky names, it’s a miracle they survived the playground — then graduated from college and law school, and passed a very tough bar exam….

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Pro bono for clients, but not for students.

* Sedgwick is the latest Biglaw firm to jump on the back-office bandwagon. The firm will be moving all of its administrative operations — from HR to IT — to Kansas City, Missouri. Don’t be sad, it’s probably better than West Virginia. [Am Law Daily]

* Lawyers may be pecking at Biglaw’s rotting carcass, but at least there are lessons to be learned for Big Med, the next profession supposedly on the brink of implosion. It’s time to stop obsessing over revenue and rankings. [The Atlantic]

* Ten states rushed to help Utah defend its ban on gay marriage using “pretty embarrassing” arguments, but Nevada just washed its hands of its own appeal, saying its ban was “no longer defensible.” [Bloomberg]

* Here’s something that’ll make you love or hate Chris Christie even more: he once made Bristol-Myers Squibb donate $5 million to Seton Hall Law to avoid securities fraud charges. Yep. [Washington Post]

* Faruqi & Faruqi doesn’t want its attorneys’ compensation information to be disclosed to Alexandra Marchuk in her sexual harassment case against the firm. A kinder, gentler firm, huh? [Law 360 (sub. req.)]

* Soon you’ll be able to take the bar before you graduate in New York, but only if you do pro bono work during spring semester of your 3L year — and you’ll likely have to pay to complete it. [New York Times]

* If you just took the LSAT, you’re cutting it pretty close, buddy. Guesstimate your score so you can avoid sending out applications that will make admissions officers laugh. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

Wendy Davis

* According to the latest Citi report, the Am Law 50 outperformed the rest of their ilk in terms of net profits and profits per equity partner. As for the rest, ha ha ha, enjoy all of your “modest” returns. [Am Law Daily]

* The ABA’s Standards Review Committee is close to a decision on its bar-exam passage standard for accreditation. It’s tough to protect students and law schools at the same time. [National Law Journal]

* Oh my! Professors at Albany Law are incredibly pissed the school would dare imply they suggested lowering academic standards to put asses in seats and stave off faculty layoffs. [New York Law Journal]

* Wendy Davis has left her position at Cantey Hanger, one of Fort Worth’s largest law firms, to dedicate herself fully to her bid to become Texas’ Next Top Governor. You stand, girl! [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]

* Yuna, a Malaysian pop star with a law degree who’s worked with artists like Pharrell, doesn’t think she’ll be able to fall back on her J.D. now that she’s in America. Funny, because many Americans feel exactly the same way. [Pittsburgh City Paper]

See, this is an awesome logo.

* The Phoenix Coyotes plan to change their name to the Arizona Coyotes. They probably should have looked into whether or not someone had trademarked “Arizona Coyotes.” I don’t care about their name as long as they go back to their awesome original sweaters. [The Legal Blitz]

* As expected, Mayor Bill De Blasio has dropped New York City’s appeal of the stop-and-frisk case. [New York Times]

* As we discussed this morning, Eric Holder had to make a decision on whether or not to pursue the death penalty in the Boston Bomber case. Well, he made it. [CNN]

* No, getting mocked on late night TV is not the same as torture or the mass extermination of human beings. [Popehat]

* What happens when 16 children’s book characters are sent to court? [Visual.ly]

* Here are 5 quick tips to employ when preparing for the bar exam. [BigLaw Rebel]

* Prosecutors aren’t all out to get your client. You need to read the signals to figure out when they’re willing to help. [Katz Justice]

* Unlocking your phone is still a crime. It’s almost as though Congress was deliberately obstructionist on every issue for a whole year. Weird. [Politix]

* Ever wonder how to make the transition from law school to journalist? Here’s one answer from across the pond. [Legal Cheek]

Results from the July 2013 administration of the California bar exam were released on November 22, 2013. Ever since, people have been wondering about the pass rates by law school.

The only information we’ve had until now has been the overall pass rate of 55.8 percent (up a whopping five-tenths of a point from July 2012′s results). We also knew about the overall pass rates for first-time takers who attended ABA-accredited law schools, both in-state (75.9 percent) and out-of-state (64.2 percent).

Fast forward two months, and now we know all of the individual California bar exam pass rates for law schools nationwide.

Last year, we praised Stanford for its top performance. Which law school took home the glory this time?

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This isn’t what I meant when I said law students need a helping hand.

I know, that’s not really a fair question. In most cases, you have to submit yourself to three expensive years of law school before they will even allow you to cram for six weeks in order to pass the bar. I just wanted to highlight that the expensive part of becoming a lawyer is the three years — the last of which is completely useless — not that sprint at the end to pass the bar exam.

That’s why it doesn’t make sense for a state to sell a “no bar exam for in-state students” option as a cost savings for students. You want to help students? Get rid of the third year of law school. You want to incentivize students to remain in-state for law school during a highly competitive market for law applications? Then you follow Wisconsin’s path and offer to ignore your own bar exam if people would just please, please, please go to an in-state school.

Another Midwestern state is considering doing just that, because it helps the schools, not because it helps students….

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Ted Olson’s hourly rate.

* While we’re celebrating recently anointed Biglaw partner classes, let’s take a minute to call out the firms that haven’t bestowed the honor upon a single woman this year. Cheers, jerks. [Am Law Daily]

* The results of the NLJ’s Law Firm Billing Survey are out, and lo and behold, one of the top partners in the country is pushing $2,000 an hour for his services. Congrats, Ted! [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]

* Everyone’s buzzing about the federal law clerk who’s been accused of attempted aggravated rape and solicitation of a minor under 13. Don’t let that legendary 4.0 GPA go to waste. [Times-Picayune]

* Congratulations to Gerchen Keller Capital, the litigation finance firm founded by former SCOTUS clerks and hedge-fund alumni, on raising $260 million for its new fund. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Iowa is thinking about allowing law grads to practice ASAP instead of having to pass a bar exam. Paired with its recent tuition cuts, the Hawkeye State is looking better and better. [Des Moines Register]

* If you’re in the unfortunate situation of still having to look for a law job once OCI has ended, then you might want to start considering applying for some of the other law jobs that don’t want you. [Mashable]

* The incarceration of a blogger known for making salacious allegations against federal judges raises First Amendment concerns. [New York Times]

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