Bar Exams

[O]n its face, the [bar passage] information is factual and uncontroversial. Prospective students are free to draw their own conclusions about its relevance. That [Southern California Institute of Law] may not like those conclusions is irrelevant.

– Judge James V. Selna (C.D. Cal.), in a tentative order dismissing the Southern California Institute of Law’s (SCIL) free speech suit against state bar officials, with prejudice. SCIL argued that having to share information on its website about its bar exam passage rates would force the school to adopt an “ideological belief that a law school should be judged by the passage rates of its graduates.” In the past five years, SCIL’s graduates have passed the state bar exam just 7 percent of the time.

(Keep reading to see Judge Selna’s full First Amendment smackdown.)

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* The DOJ and a number of state attorneys general are suing to block the merger of American Airlines and US Airways. American and US Airways weren’t fazed because they expected lengthy delays. [Courthouse News Service]

* Following up on yesterday’s tale of divorcing law professors — which may as well have been Jarndyce v. Jarndyce — here’s a post collecting some other entertaining divorce battles. [Lowering the Bar]

* The Consumer Product Safety Commission is going after a CEO individually. Craig Zucker, the CEO of the company that makes the office toy BuckyBalls, has really gotten under the CPSC’s skin in resisting their efforts to get BuckyBalls off the market. First they came for the BuckyBalls and I said nothing, then they came for the drinking bird and there was no one left to speak for it. [Overlawyered]

* Here’s a look at law school applications for top schools charted over time. Spoiler alert: if these schools are playing a Ponzi scheme, they’re failing. [Associate's Mind]

* More Americans fled overseas to avoid taxes this year. If we make it so the traitorous ninnies can’t come back, this sounds awesome. [Wall Street Journal]

* Judicial Clerk Review asks how Shon Hopwood disclosed that whole “convicted bank robber” thing in his application. [Judicial Clerk Review]

* Professor Robert Anderson has a new bar passage calculator. Take it for a spin to figure out whether or you much you should be freaking out. [Witnesseth]

* Is this the worst job listing ever? Perhaps not. Definitely the most honest in being a bad job listing though. Check it out after the jump (click to enlarge), via the University of Houston Law Center…

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Reema Bajaj

* As “one of the most respected appellate judges of her generation,” Patricia Wald, the first woman appointed to the D.C. Circuit, was awarded the Medal of Freedom. Congrats! [Blog of Legal Times]

* Biglaw firms saw “anemic” growth in the first half of 2013, and according to the latest Wells Fargo survey, some “minor cuts” are expected in headcount. Well, that’s just great. [Am Law Daily]

* “It is a period of significant change for the firm. That requires some hard decisions.” Patton Boggs has already conducted layoffs, so what could possibly be next for the firm? [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Sorry guys, but it looks like Reema Bajaj’s bajayjay will be out of session for the foreseeable future. The attorney accused of exchanging sex for office supplies has agreed to a three-year suspension of her law license. [Chicago Tribune]

* Rather than be bought out by InfiLaw (it could “diminish the value of their degrees”), Charleston School of Law alumni are trying to organize a merger with a public school. Good luck with that. [Greenville News]

* Nebraska will offer a doctorate in space law, which makes sense because… f**kin’ magnets, how do they work? But really, we’re willing to bet it’s because of all of the crop circles in the state. [Miami Herald]

* No joke necessary: This law school claims its rights are being infringed upon because it has to disclose how many of its graduates — 7 percent at last count — have passed the bar. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Two of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s friends were indicted on obstruction of justice charges. If convicted, the pair will face up to 20 years in prison, and they don’t even have a Facebook fan page to show for it. [Bloomberg]


The Higher Education Act of 1965 defines an “HBCU” as “any historically black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans.” Out of 105 current HBCUs, five of them operate law schools: Howard University, Texas Southern University, Southern University, Florida A&M University, and North Carolina Central University. The University of the District of Columbia also enrolls a predominantly black student body, and is home to a law school, but it is not considered an official HBCU by the Higher Education Act of 1965 because it was formed after 1964.

These schools purport to fulfill a noble mission: opening the doors to the legal profession once shut by generations of racial oppression. They offer not only a distinctive purpose in admissions but also a distinctive experience for their students and faculty. Providing access to legal education to historically — and often contemporarily — disenfranchised black men and women is a laudable goal.

Do you know what else is a laudable goal? Getting those same men and women to pass the bar exam so that they can actually practice law. And there’s the rub….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “What’s More Racist? The Trouble With Low Bar Passage Rates At Historically Black Law Schools”

I’m not here this week; instead, I’m heading out to California to the ABA annual meeting. At the conference, the ABA will discuss the changing nature of legal education.

The ABA, and law schools in general, have been really slow to respond to the new realities of legal education. There’s institutional resistance to changing the way things have always been done.

Arguably, a company like BARBRI can be much more flexible in response to student needs. And, as many tipsters have told us over the past couple of weeks, BARBRI is making some changes. Which is kind of a nice way of saying that BARBRI laid off some people.

I recently spoke with BARBRI president Mike Sims about these moves…

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As bar exam week wraps up, we have some delightful stories about how people celebrated the completion of what could be the last test they’ll ever take.

None of these stories are coming out of Massachusetts, which means that none of these people finished the bar while being harassed about their fundamental religious rights. Instead, we have stories about beer and (unrelated) car accidents.

But we’re going to start with the guy who left the bar exam in a limo, because clearly that’s the right thing to do…

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This is what you could call a slow news week. It’s kind of the exact opposite of the week that inspired me to start writing these missives. Back then, the Supreme Court was handing down rulings and the Zimmerman trial was getting off to a disastrous start for the defense. It all seems so long ago.

The latter days of the summer are always slow in law as partners and judges go on vacation and students await the return to school. The bar exam provides some light entertainment and OCI generally provides a gem or two, but otherwise it’s a slow period.

And that’s when people can get tripped up by satire masquerading as news.

Here’s a short round-up of a few key stories from the week including how satire fooled a lot of the ATL-verse and some high profile cases that had milestone moments…

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From earthquakes to power outages to going into labor, we’ve written about almost every kind of bar exam horror story that exists on this earth. But we’ve never seen or heard of one that has been motivated by alleged religious bias — until today.

Everyone knows that things like hats, hoods, scarves, and visors are not allowed to be worn during the bar exam. But religious headgear, like Sikh dastars and Jewish yarmulkes, is permitted, as long as special written approval has been obtained before the test from a state’s board of bar examiners.

When there’s a miscommunication somewhere along the line, things don’t always go as planned. Yesterday, a proctor in Massachusetts passed a distasteful note to a Michigan Law graduate of Muslim faith during the morning essay session. We have a copy of that note…

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You mean you can’t draw power from this bad boy?

Last year, during the North Carolina bar exam, there was a power outage. This outage stressed and inconvenienced students. North Carolina makes some students take the bar in a barn, so it was entirely foreseeable that the power would go out.

But I think the point is that power outages are pretty foreseeable everywhere. Bar exam proctors should know exactly what to do when the power goes out. There shouldn’t be confusion. People shouldn’t be running around acting like it’s 10,000 B.C. during an eclipse.

Then again, I’m going to give a slight pass to the people who administer the bar exam in Hawaii. When the power goes out, I’m sure that proctors expect would-be Hawaiian lawyers to act more like Hawaiians and less like uptight, stressed out lawyers everywhere else…

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* Zynga is suing the makers of Bang With Friends alleging that the latter chose its name to take advantage of market confusion with Words With Friends. To remedy the suit, the app is considering a name change to “Bangville,” which actually works better because Bang With Friends is all about pathetically bothering everyone on Facebook to give you something you can’t go out and get yourself. [BBC]

* Ariel Castro gave some testimony. It was crazy. Enjoy! [Jezebel]

* A comprehensive legal analysis of Better Off Dead. Spoiler alert: the Paperboy was a penal code violating machine. [The Legal Geeks]

* 10 Things Only Someone Who’s Taken the Bar Exam Would Know [Policy Mic]

* Just where is the FISA Court? 10 points to Gryffindor for the “Room of Requirement” reference. [Konklone]

* The NBA luxury tax is supposed to help parity. So why doesn’t it? [The Legal Blitz]

* Brutally honest Craigslist ad for temp document review work. This will probably come down at some point, so the ad is reproduced after the jump…

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