Bar Exams

* In November, Supreme Court justices engaged in the “totally unnecessary” practice of releasing 41 pages of nondecision opinions. In all fairness, we can’t really blame them for enjoying hearing themselves speak. [National Law Journal]

* These D.C. Circuit judges of differing political viewpoints “disagreed less than 3 percent of the time” over the course of two decades. Please, keep arguing about the court’s “ideological balance.” You’re accomplishing lots. [New York Times]

* With more tie-ups than ever before and another record broken, 2013 is officially the year of full-blown law firm merger mania. Query how many more we’ll be able to add to the already huge list of 78 by the end of December. [Am Law Daily]

* Speaking of which, Baker Hostetler is merging with Woodcock Washburn, an intellectual property firm with a name that sounds like the aftercare instructions for a painful sex toy injury. [Philadelphia Inquirer]

* Of course a fired ADA’s scandalous emails landed on BuzzFeed. This is one more embarrassing chapter in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year. [New York Times]

* It’s amazing how things can change in a year. In 2012, New York bar pass rates for in-state schools fell. In 2013, they’re up — except for one school, which is way down. Which one? [New York Law Journal]

And now time for another attempt to “re-imagine” the otherwise useless third year of law school. This time, ALM editor-in-chief Aric Press weighs in with a thoughtful piece about how law schools could be doing a much better job at preparing people to take and pass the bar exam, especially minority students. Whether or not the bar exam is a good test of practice-ready skills barred attorneys need is a different question: at the very least, we can argue that law schools should be preparing would-be lawyers to be licensed.

It’s an interesting idea, but let’s be clear: most people, most of the time, can pass the bar with the help of an eight-week dedicated prep course. “Preparing students for the bar” cannot by itself justify an entire year of some of the most expensive education around. Getting people ready for the bar isn’t a “reform,” it should be a basic requirement for any accredited law school. And many law schools are already doing a decent enough job at graduating law students who can pass the bar. I’m not sure that we should change the focus of education for everybody just because some schools are not achieving basic competence…

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‘Gee, my life is so meaningful. Thanks a lot, law school!’

* Despite the fact that the overall demand for legal work was down by five percent during the first nine months of the year, law firms still raised their hourly rates. Hey, what can we say? Math is hard. [Am Law Daily]

* After instructing his lawyers not to speak during what he called a “sham sentencing,” Whitey Bulger received two life sentences plus five years. Don’t worry, the appeal won’t be a sham. [National Law Journal; CNN]

* Attention c/o 2015: the New York City Bar Task Force is considering throwing commercial paper out the window in favor of administrative law. Something something arbitrary and capricious. [New York Law Journal]

* What is law school for, aside from collecting gigantic mountains of non-dischargeable student loan debt? Apparently it’s for creating a more meaningful life, because with poverty comes clarity. [WSJ Law Blog]

* In the very near future, you might need a license to conduct business with virtual money like bitcoin. The Brothers Winklevii are probably already preparing their paperwork to file. [DealBook / New York Times]


The best law school professors have practical experience that allows them to draw from personal memory to bring a lesson to life for students. One professor who often lectures students on their ethical obligations can now draw from her own experience to tell students about what happens when lawyers lie to federal judges to help clients perpetrate a fraud.

The irony is scrumptious.

You’d think that getting busted for lying to a judge and benchslapped silly would doom a law professor, but that’s premature. She’ll probably lose her job for failing as a professor first….

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As the days roll on, more and more bar exam results from the July 2013 administration of the test are being released.

We’ve actually reached the point where just about every state in the country has unleashed its exam results except for Maryland (expected by end of business today), New Jersey, and California. Those folks still have some time to wait on pins and needles, but for now, we’ve got confirmed news about results from states that came out on Halloween, just in time for festive holiday celebrations.

So it’s time for a round-up of all of the results that went live yesterday, including Texas and Virginia, and some rumors we’ve heard about Maryland. Here’s an open thread for you to discuss your thoughts…

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Maryland (Kind Of?), Texas, Virginia — any others?

On Tuesday afternoon, we started receiving tips about the release of the New York Bar results for the July 2013 administration of the exam. We found this to be really odd because it’s not even November yet. In fact, it’s not even Halloween yet. We’ve got to say, the members of the New York Board of Law Examiners have a pretty sick sense of humor if this is their idea of holiday fun.

What kind of frights or delights are in store for New York bar examinees when they open their email? Let’s find out.

Trick or treat…

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Jodi Arias

* Hot on the heels of news about Pillsbury’s talks with Orrick, we’ve got the scoop on yet another possible law firm merger. Patton Boggs has the urge to merge, and Locke Lord seems pretty receptive. [Reuters]

* Three people who were optimistic about law school graduated with three very different results. One has a job, one is unemployed, and one failed the bar. Sadly, this seems pretty standard. [National Law Journal]

* Lat’s going to be on vacation this week (lucky him), but while he’s gone you can check out his review of a new novel set in a law firm, The Partner Track (affiliate link) by Helen Wan. Enjoy! [Wall Street Journal]

* A judge denied the NCAA’s motion to dismiss Ed O’Bannon’s antitrust lawsuit, noting everyone could “suck her dicta” concerning the Supreme Court’s notion that players cannot be compensated. [ESPN]

* Jodi Arias wants to fire Kirk Nurmi, her lead attorney, claiming in a 12-page handwritten motion that he has an “utter poverty of people skills.” Her words hurt as much as her stab wounds. :( [Arizona Republic]

Earlier this month, the National Jurist released its first-ever ranking of the private law schools with the “best value.” We found it odd, of course, that the “best value” designation was awarded to schools where less than half of students (and in some cases, less than a third of students) are able to retain their merit scholarships, but we tried to give the magazine the benefit of the doubt. After all, this is the same publication that used incorrect indebtedness figures to crown at least three schools as offering the “best value” in the nation, as recently as last year.

We thought that maybe things would be better when National Jurist rolled out its seventh annual Best Value rankings, for both public and private law schools. The Best Value ranking system takes into account a law school’s tuition (25% of study), students’ cost of living expenses (10%), students’ average indebtedness upon graduation (15%), the percentage of graduates who got a job after graduation (35%), and bar passage rates (15%). As in years past, National Jurist ranked only the top 20 schools, and gave letter grades to the rest of the schools on the list, ranging from A- to F.

So were this year’s Best Value rankings as fraught with error as last year’s? Continue reading to find out…

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It’s that time of year again, and people are starting to get very antsy as they await the results of the July 2013 bar examination. While a handful of states have released test takers from their torturous waiting game, other locales will keep bar examinees on pins and needles until November.

We’ve already heard about the results from North Carolina — as usual, the Tar Heel State was the first to get its results out. Speaking of North Carolina, we’ve heard this year’s results were rather ugly. It seems there was about a 10 percent dip in the passage rate this summer, even though no one had to take the bar in the dark. Yikes! Getting back to the results, next in line came Utah (remember when we released the state’s unofficial results?), followed by Florida, and then Indiana.

Let’s talk bar exam results…

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Florida, Indiana, Utah — any others?

It’s the middle of September, which means most people are waiting for the results of their summer bar exams. Here in America, we all take the bars at the same time, so new lawyers hit the market at relatively the same time. This is because… well, I don’t know, but it’s how we do things.

In Puerto Rico — which is kind of like a disenfranchised America, like D.C. or black people living in North Carolina — they do things a little differently. This is because… oh, who cares? It’s weird, from a mainland point of view. There are lots of things that are weird about the Puerto Rican bar…

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