Screw-Ups

Making life hard is a GIANT understatement. Judging from the dozens of furious emails, text messages, and tweets we’ve received over the past few hours, this appears to be the biggest bar exam debacle in history. It’s certainly the most serious bar disaster I’ve ever covered in the eight years since I started Above the Law. Bar takers around the country are in full-on meltdown mode.

Just like ExamSoft, the apparent source of the problems. An unknown number of bar candidates, but surely numbering into the thousands, cannot upload their completed exams to ExamSoft — despite deadlines for doing so (which vary from state to state).

Keep reading for disaster reports from around the country, plus statements from ExamSoft….

(Please note that we will be UPDATING this post, so refresh your browser for the latest.)

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I’ve never met you, but I assume that you’re incompetent.

I realize that sounds a bit harsh, but it’s time someone told you the truth.

Some people assume that strangers are competent. One of my colleagues in our Law Department said to me recently: “Outside counsel says we won’t have much liability in that case.”

I naturally asked, “Is he right?”

She was shocked: “He’s a partner at a well-respected firm. We hired him. I assume he’s competent.”

That got us to talking. My colleague gives strangers the benefit of the doubt; she assumes that people are competent until they prove otherwise. I’m exactly the opposite: When I meet you, my working assumption is that you’re inept. Over time, there’s a chance you’ll convince me that I’m wrong. (But probably not.)

Why do I assume that all new people I meet are incompetent?

No, that’s too easy. Here’s the better question: Why am I right to assume that everyone’s incompetent, and why is that a helpful way to go through life?

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We give law schools a lot of flak for the way they take massive amounts of money and then have the gall to call us every week asking for donations. What did they do with the original $150K? I guess in my case it was “buy real estate.” But still.

So when I say there’s a law school out there nickel and diming its graduates, I’m not colloquially talking about $150K in tuition. No, I’m using “literally” entirely accurately. They are literally taking dimes and nickels off their alums….

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Sometimes students who enroll in law school very quickly realize that it’s not the right career path for them. Rather than lay out additional loan dollars, they happily withdraw from school and frolic to their next destination. Others “withdraw,” forget that lawyers want important decisions recorded in writing, and wind up accidentally failing out of law school. When they decide that they want to go back to school, this obviously causes problems.

In the case we’ll be discussing today, the former law student happened to file suit against the law school he once attended. He apparently decided that he really did want to be a lawyer, seven years after he initially quit. Alas, he needs a letter of good standing to apply to the school of his choice, and his old school won’t supply him with one.

Did we mention that he wants a letter of good standing so he can apply to Cooley Law?

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‘Would you like fries with that, Your Honor?’

* With OT 2013 drawing to a close, here’s a nifty chart that shows which Supreme Court justices vote together most and least often. The division is real, people. [The Upshot / New York Times]

* “Not only do they have unique interpretations of the Constitution but they can’t even agree on how to pronounce words.” Listen to our SCOTUS justices flub the word “certiorari.” [Legal Times]

* Quinn Emanuel and Samsung must now pay more than $2M in sanctions to Nokia and Apple after leaking confidential, “attorneys’ eyes only” information in a discovery blunder. Oopsie! [Legal Week]

* “Why can’t you get a real job?” This judge — the same one who sentenced a rapist to just 30 days in prison — told a fast-food worker to get a better job to pay off his restitution more quickly. [Billings Gazette]

* If you think you’ve seen the best of the “Law and ______” classes, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Say hello to some newcomers, like Video Game Law and Law of Robots. Justice Scalia is pissed. [WSJ Law Blog]

Keith Lee

One of the great, unspoken realities of being a new lawyer that is never mentioned in law school is that you are going to screw up – badly. And then you’re going to have to explain it to your client or supervising attorney.

You’re going to miss a deadline, not file an objection, miss some case law, or not contact an attorney involved in the case on a hearing. A mistake is going to be made and it will be your fault.

You may be tempted to try and shift the blame. Come up with excuses as to why something outside of your control caused the problem. That you were swamped with work and had too much on your plate. He said, she said. But if it was a task assigned to you, it is your personal responsibility to make sure it was completed on time and specification.

As the task, and subsequent mistake, are your responsibility – you must own it….

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Over the course of the past few years, law school personnel have found it especially difficult to keep their students’ personal information private. In April 2012, someone at Baylor Law School sent out an email containing a trove of admissions data — from names, to grades, to LSAT scores — to every student admitted to the Class of 2015. In March 2014, Loyola Law School in Los Angeles sent out an email with a heap of financial information for the entire graduating class — up to and including Social Security numbers and loan amounts — to some members of the Class of 2014.

Today, we’ve got another email screw-up for you, and this is one of the juiciest and most prestigious accidental data dumps we’ve seen yet. Someone at a T14 law school “inadvertently” sent out every piece of vital information possible about its clerkship applicants — from GPA, to class rank, to work experience, to recommenders, right down to where their girlfriends live — to everyone on its clerkship listserv.

If you’d like to see how you stack up against elite law students, now you can. We’ve got all the data…

Please note the UPDATES at the end of this post.

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Justice Scalia made what’s being called “a hugely embarrassing mistake” and an “epic blunder” after he wrote one of his characteristically dismissive and belittling dissents. Unfortunately it seems Justice Scalia (or his clerks) failed to do proper research and based an entire section of his dissent on a past decision that he completely mischaracterized.

A past decision that he wrote himself. Cue effect.

Maybe if he spent more time focusing on the law instead of fomenting revolution he could have avoided this….

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In the wake of the Heartbleed incident, everyone is understandably concerned about their online privacy.

If you’ve applied to law school with the assistance of the good folks at LSAC, you probably appreciated the opportunity to have your law school application process entirely automated. But you also placed your personal information at risk, up to and including your Social Security number, due to some serious (but easily remedied) security flaws.

Thankfully, they know about the problem and are working on it.

Maybe. Eventually. It’s not really clear.

Which, considering the gravity of the risk, is just as discomforting an answer as blowing it off completely….

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Congratulations to everyone who passed the February bar exam. As we recently learned from several late-night texts from readers, results just came out in New York (which tends to be one of the last states to post). Private look-up for New Yorkers is available here, and results should be posted publicly soon.

Judging from the timing of the texts we received, New York results were available sometime after midnight today (Thursday). But one candidate found out his results on Wednesday afternoon. How?

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(And how one New Yorker got early results.)

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