California Bar Exam

Mid-June and approximately six weeks to the bar exam.  If you are only mildly stressed right now, don’t worry, it will get worse, and worse, and yet worse, with, if you are like me, successive panic apexes interspersed with periods of apathy.  A wonderful cycle.  

This column doesn’t usually come with advice, but for your sanity I recommend taking a week off after your bar review course during which you don’t crack the books at all. It might help to have a facilitator ensuring you are perpetually inebriated during that time, so you won’t be tempted. All I can say is it worked for me….

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Hello, bar exam takers. We hope everything is going well. If you are taking the February Bar because you failed the one in July, take heart; things can’t get any worse.

Well, unless you are in California. Things certainly got “worse” for some test takers in Ontario and Pasadena yesterday. Really, it’s the kind of exam screw up that you would expect from New Jersey.

Read on for the gory details….

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Not what the image of lawyers that the California Supreme Court wants to support.

A former journalist turned law school graduate went to the state of California and asked to be admitted to the practice of law.

California said no.

The problem was his practice of “making up stories” for a few years while working at The New Republic.

A well-documented history of lying is not a great testament to the moral fitness of a prospective lawyer, but does this particular transgression really justify denying Stephen Glass’s application?

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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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As 2013 draws to a close, let’s look back at the 10 biggest stories in the legal profession over the past year. This is an annual tradition here at Above the Law, which we’ve done in 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009. We’ll fire up the old Google Analytics machine to get data on our most popular posts, based on pageviews, and share the results with you.

Before turning to specific stories, let’s look at the top general discussion topics here at ATL. For 2013, our most trafficked category page was Biglaw, which bumped Law Schools out of the top spot — a spot that Law Schools held from 2010 through 2012. Now that the word is out about the perils of getting a law degree, leading to plummeting applications, perhaps it’s time to move on from the “don’t go to law school” narrative.

After Biglaw and Law Schools, our third most-popular category page was, as usual, Bonuses. This wasn’t a terribly exciting year for bonuses — there were no spring bonuses, and Cravath and its many followers paid out the same bonuses as last year — but people still want to know the score.

Our fourth most-popular category page was small law firms. Small firms, including boutiques, are an area of increasing focus and readership for us — and also where many of the job opportunities are these days.

Moving on from the topic pages, what were the 10 most popular individual posts at Above the Law in 2013?

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O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! On Friday, California bar exam results came out (and 55.8% of applicants passed, with a pass rate of 68% for first-time takers, meaning that just one stat is up (barely) from last year’s results). And today, we’ve finally got a list of the passage rates for the July 2013 administration of the New York bar exam by law school.

In 2012, more than half of the state’s law schools saw their pass rates take a tumble. In 2013, more than half of the state’s law schools were able to improve their pass rates, and in some cases, by epic proportions. The state’s overall pass rate for first-time takers jumped by two percentage points.

So which law schools’ pass rates climbed, and by how much? And which school sank like a stone?

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Sergio Garcia (not the racist golfer) has lived in California most of his life. He worked his way through law school and then took and passed the California bar exam on the first try.

Yesterday, the California Supreme Court heard argument on whether Garcia could be admitted to practice law.

Sergio Garcia was brought to the United States when he was 17 months old. The California justices must decide whether an undocumented immigrant can be admitted. The State of California says yes. The Obama Administration says no.

The news coverage of the case implies that California has the equities on its side while the Obama Administration has the law.

It’s a tidy narrative for a story, but the media hasn’t really focused on the briefs, because when you actually unpack the statute the administration cites, it requires tortured mental gymnastics to support rejecting Garcia’s application….

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Don’t be a sucker!

* According to the Second Circuit, the long arm of the law doesn’t extend to the middle finger. You can’t just go around arresting dudes for flipping you the bird. [U.S. Second Circuit / FindLaw]

* President Obama jetted off to Hawaii before he could sign the fiscal cliff bill, so he ordered it be signed by autopen. Of course, people are losing their minds over it. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Should we scrap the Constitution? Georgetown Law professor Louis Seidman continues to advocate for constitutional disobedience in this epic ConLaw throwdown. [HuffPost Live]

* Don’t celebrate your increase in California bar passage points yet. The state bar changed its tune, and a 40% pass rate is the new standard. That shouldn’t be hard, eh TJSL? [California Bar Journal]

* One of our former columnists, Jay Shepherd, has a great way to calculate what your actual hourly rate should be, if you don’t mind working for just pennies a day. Most lawyers would mind. [jayshep]

* For the love of God, even Gawker knows that going to law school these days is a fool’s errand, or in their own words: “IT’S A SUCKER’S BET. A CLEAR SUCKER’S BET.” Come on, stop being suckers. :( [Gawker]

* If you’d like to hear Dean Lawrence Mitchell of NYT op-ed fame sound off on why there isn’t a lawyer oversupply problem, and why it isn’t his job to get law students jobs, we’ve got a video for you to watch….

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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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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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