State Bar Considers Diploma Privilege, or Online Bar Exam

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Jonathan Whatley, Mar 27, 2020.

  1. Jonathan Whatley

    Jonathan Whatley Well-Known Member

    No Bar Exam? That's What 1,000 Law Students Want NY to Declare Amid COVID-19 (Karen Sloan, / New York Law Journal, March 26, 2020)
  2. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    Nonsense. This requirement should not be waived. You should be required to sit and pass the bar exam before being allowed to practice law.
  3. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

  4. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member


    This is a serious question. Do we have any data to support the effectiveness of the bar exam? Is there anything to correlate it to success as an attorney? Just because the examination exists doesn't necessarily make it a good idea.

    It is rather silly to ask people to sit for an examination after you've been educating them for 3 or 4 years and deemed them successful by graduating them. And if the examination is so critical to success--again, I doubt it--why not require it before graduating them? (Yes, some graduates do other things besides practice law, but how many of them are forced-choice non-attorneys because of the bar exam?) Why are law schools graduating 25% (or more) who cannot qualify to enter the profession for which they've been prepared?

    That would be like awarding the PhD without examining the thesis, only doing so if that person decided to become a professor.

    Believe it or not, there were lawyers long before law schools and bar exams. If there is a danger in admitting a law school graduate to the bar without passing that test, perhaps law schools should not be graduating them.
  5. sideman

    sideman Active Member

    I believe that this article better explains the six alternatives the academics that wrote the white paper want the bar administrators to consider:

    Regardless of what you think about whether they should take the bar or not: the poor and low populous areas are severely underrepresented in this country, preparation for the bar doesn't prepare you for the practice of law, and does anyone really think the ABA is going to let all these students get a pass on taking the bar (think of the backlash)? I implore any of you reading this to at least read the article and consider the alternatives proposed.
  6. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Do you really think the answers to your questions make any difference? What world do you live in. This is a serious question.
  7. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    The bar exam is a quality control device that is outside the law school complex and not answerable to it. Whether or how well it actually works, I don't know. Is professional examination ever useful? I don't know. But the LAST thing I'd want to see is admission to the bar being entirely up to the schools that have profited obscenely by recruiting students that aren't adequately prepared to study law. This includes public schools, by the way, since they are often seen as profit centers for their Universities. I just don't trust those people, in part because of the clear conflict of interest but also because most law professors have very limited experience in the actual practice of law. The bar exam keeps the schools honest.
  8. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    And by the way...the notion that the bar exam has no relationship to the actual practice of law is a canard. It COULD be made more "realistic" but even as it stands, you need to show a very solid grasp of a wide range of law to have any hope of passing it. You must also demonstrate the ability to reason, read and write in the technical manner that lawyers use every day to communicate with each other and the courts.
  9. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    This is not the first time people have questioned whether or not these exams that exist outside of the long hard study of professions like law and medicine have a direct connection to a person's ability to perform the job in the real world. I'm certainly not against the exams personally, let me make that clear, but it's fair to question that if you've managed to successfully pass everything a school has thrown at you for 4-6+ years, should one test be able to determine whether or not you have the ability to practice? I get that being able to read, write, and reason in the language of your profession is important, but if you hadn't proved that in all the years of study leading up to the exam you were never going to pass the exam anyway.

    Then there is another argument I've seen raised many times: no matter how much you learn in school and how well you learn it, the real test of your education begins on-the-job, and that's why many professions are mandated to have a certain number of hours of successful, monitored practice before a person can even be licensed. That to me is far more valuable of an indicator than a standardized test since you can just be a great test-taker, but you will be exposed during practicum when you can't come up with the answers in the heat of the moment when you need them. Maybe the exchange would be to increase the standards for what constitutes passing grades, increase 3rd party association oversight, and increase practicum hours.

    My personal concern with exams has always focused on the question of what happens next? You fail the exam, you can't practice, but what is the correction? Where is the consultation to explain to the student exactly what he/she got wrong and how one can improve for the next exam? Not just a list of deficiency areas, but a real in-depth examination of what went wrong and an opportunity to retrain in those deficient areas? The absence of those things doesn't mean exams should be abandoned, but maybe we can rethink the post-effects and how to deal with them to produce better professionals.
  10. Garp

    Garp Active Member

    Attorneys have told me that the Bar is really not a measure of learning in law school. Greta Van Sustern posted a YouTube video to encourage students preparing to take the bar and she said the same thing. So, it is a valid question to ask (bar relevance). Obviously in States with tough Bar Exams (eg California) it keeps numbers in the profession down a bit and slows down out of state lawyers trying to get into the CA market.
  11. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I have no idea what this means.
  12. Vonnegut

    Vonnegut Active Member

    For what it's worth, the first time bar passing rate is commonly used to compare law schools. You're likely very familiar with the proliferation of law schools that corresponded with the proliferation of MBA programs, there are quite a number of law schools that routinely struggle to have graduates pass the bar. Granted... many of those are for-profit institutions...
  13. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    And, outside of California, nearly all of them accredited by the ABA.

    So, the Bar Association accredits schools. Schools then award JD degrees to their graduates. Some of those JDs cannot pass the Bar exam necessary to enter the profession after graduating from the schools the Bar Association accredits, even though those graduates met all the requirements to graduate from these accredited schools. It's really insane.

    I'm not saying law school shouldn't be rigorous. And I'm not saying the profession shouldn't have high standards for entry. But when the profession accredits schools that graduate failures, something is amiss. Essentially, the same profession that said you could graduate then tells you that you cannot practice in the profession.

    There is a tired joke: What do they call the person finishing last at medical school? "Doctor." But even that absurdity makes more sense than this.

    In a way, California's unaccredited law schools got it right. Most would offer a 4-year part-time JD, but students who wanted the degree without becoming attorneys could opt for the 3-year non-Bar JD instead. (But even there, the 4-year JDs were awarded irrespective of whether students passed the bar.)

    Given that the Bar exam is used primarily to control the inflow of new attorneys and, thus, propping up those already admitted to the Bar, it is a particularly heinous process.
  14. BlueMason

    BlueMason Audaces fortuna juvat

    No different than the LSAT - it is only in place to weed out people. IMH, many good people who would make great lawyers couldn't get past the LSAT and never had the chance to prove themselves. I worked with a number of lawyers, in criminal courts, where I just had to shake my head at the questions they asked and the thought process that went along with it.

    The LSAT, nor the BAR exam, are indications whether or not someone will make a good lawyer, just whether or not they can follow a mandated thought process.
  15. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    I'm guessing the bar exam is here to stay. It's too political. There's a lot of money involved. There are already too many lawyers, getting rid of the exam would only make a big problem bigger.
  16. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Definitely about it being here to stay. I don't know about the hypothetical results of removing it. My point was that the decision of who becomes an attorney should be made before someone graduates with a degree, and that it is hypocritical for the same profession to, by extension, approve graduates and then disapprove their entry into the field.

    Personally, I think market forces would control entry into the field more than the bar exam does. When we experienced a glut of lawyers, law schools saw their admissions drop precipitously. (I wonder how many closed?) The GUILD that is the law profession tries to curb this somewhat at the state level with bar exams, but the drop in admissions will do a lot more.
  17. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Mmmm. Maybe. But it's consistent with other professions including Doctors, Psychologists and even Hairdressers. Lots of professions require some sort of licensing exam in order to practice.
  18. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I agree. I wonder if the expense involved in becoming those things is as high. I also wonder about their failure rate. "Man, I would LOVE to cut hair with my beauty school diploma if only I could pass that exam...."

    You don't hear of boatloads of psychology grads failing their license exams. I guess that's knowable. From the APA: "The results showed that although 90 percent of individuals reported passing the EPPP the first time they took it..." That's a lot better than the Bar exam, especially in California. This also does not consider those re-taking their respective licensing exams.

    I have to think the graduate-from-school-yet-denied-practice is pretty unique to law.
  19. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    I know that people with Psych degrees can work, they just can't bill insurance companies (or at least not all insurance companies). You can work in a larger organization. I don't know about MDs, whether there are exceptions. As for Hairdressers, there's a lot of perfectly good haircuts given at the kitchen table. I've gotten a few of those myself. I know a woman who is especially good at braiding hair and she will come to your house, do your hair, and give you the town gossip all for a reasonable rate. She's very popular during prom season. Everyone knows she's breaking the law (did I forget the part about "under the table") and absolutely no one cares.
  20. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Put that bowl down....

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