Singing Loudly: "Abolishing" the Bar

Singing Loudly

Thursday, May 26, 2005

"Abolishing" the Bar

There is a lot of chatter going on about how we should "abolish the bar exam" for lawyers. I find this idea a tinge ridiculous, improbable, and counter productive for a variety of reasons. I know that to those of us who are studying it right now it seems like a stupid thing. The common refrain is that it's nothing like law school. Well, who ever told you it was either going to be like law school or supposed to be like law school?

Law school shouldn't be about learning black letter law. It's about learning how to analyze, how to find, and how to argue the law. The bar is about taking the black letter and coming up with a one sided conclusion and showing that you are capable of at least that.

Of course, most of this chatter comes from law professors who are often prone to silly ideas. The reason is usually because they don't actually practice the law. It's a fruitless idea whether you like it or not.

My suggestion is simply to do your studying and pass the bar. Then you can go on to have a productive career in whatever direction the practice takes you.

Of course, some of this might just be that I don't mind countless nights of suffering and misery as long as I'm not alone. The other reason is mainly because I think it's a fine idea to limit the amount of practioners in just about whatever way a particular state board decides it should. Passing a bar is, in my mind, an appropriate (if not good) way of doing this.


But curtis, learning the black-letter law doesn't do a damn thing to prepare you for practice. you don't get anywhere near the depth of information you'd need on virtually any subject to be able to apply it in practice.

and how about the stupid procedure aspect of the exam? MEMORIZING the rules of procedure? That's the most asinine thing I've ever heard. There are rulebooks, see, and you generally refer to them when you practice.

Bar exam is exceedingly stupid.

By Blogger TP, at 9:42 AM, May 27, 2005  

My point, however, is exactly what you are saying. It matters in no way to me whether or not the bar actually prepares you to practice.

My point is simply that a state's bar examier's board should have the full ability to decide whether or not some hack job lawyer from UVA should be able to practice law in Texas. If that hack job attorney can't understand that Wills are screwy in Texas and therefore can't pass the bar. Too bad for the hack job.

If California wants to make their bar exam exceedingly difficult so that only five people are lucky enough to pass every year. Have at it.

I don't care if said hack job attorney is the best attorney in the country. The board of law examiners for the various states should be allowed to use tests as a means to regulate the amount of attorneys in licensed each year in their state and to make sure that said attorneys at least care enough to go through the bull shit of learning that you have to file an appeal so many days after the commencement of the bench trial.

Abolishing the bar exam is what is exceedingly stupid. If you don't like that this is a professional organization with various state bars that control then perhaps it's a good idea to not attend law school in hopes of joining the rank and file.

By Anonymous Curtis, at 2:08 PM, May 27, 2005  

But if the bar exam has no correlation to practice ability, and is not an assessment of what you learned in law school, Curtis, what is the point of the exam?

What does it measure? Why have it? Why not just have a set number of attorneys who may be licensed every year?

By Blogger TP, at 2:15 PM, May 27, 2005  

I think the bar is a decent assessment of whether of not you understand the basic first year subjects: kxs, torts, property, etc that are tested on the multistate. Most states have commissioned studies that show correlations between your GPA and passage rates for the bar. Not surprisingly if you do well in law school you often do well on the bar. In that regard, I think it does show a decent assessment of what you've learned in school.

In the essays and parts of the bar that are unique to the particular state it's not about assessing what you learned in law school. It would be ridiculous to suppose that a student from UVA learned the same thing in Wills as a student at UT law school. They learned far different things. The point is that Texas can make sure that lawyers realize that Texas law is not the same at Virginia law.

It isn't about whether or not you actually know enough about wills to be a family lawyer. It's just about whether or not you're willing to go through the inconvenience of taking the bar. Now, once you've practiced for awhile there are often reciprocal rules that a state bar can make where you can get in easier. I think part of this is because you've proven yourself to be a productive attorney in so much as you've had X years of experience which should show something.

That at least means more than going to law school, because anyone can get into some sort of a law school. It also means a little more than people who pass law school, because almost anyone can do that too.

By Anonymous Curtis, at 2:25 PM, May 27, 2005  

Come on curtis. I can find a correlation between blowing my nose and the rain if I look hard enough.

besides, whether you do well on the bar doesn't do anything to explain why the bar is needed to begin with. maybe the bar exam tests whether you have good study habits. does that make it necessary? you just went through 3 years of law school -- why do you need an additional evaluation to determine whether you have good study habits?

furthermore, what do your study habits have to do with licensure? Joe Jamail got a "D" in torts whilst at UT. Yet he turned out to be a pretty effective lawyer. High achiever in law school does not equal good or ethical lawyer, IMO. or even correlate very significantly, IMO.

i still don't understand what the point of a bar exam is. there's a lot of economic theory that virtually all licensure examinations are anticompetitive in nature. the bar exists because those who are already in the club want to force those who wish to join the club to prove their "worth" by undergoing an ordeal prior to initiation.

that's pretty much the entire purpose of the bar exam, of almost any licensing exam, IMO.

i'm not up in arms about it, but I don't understand why you're so insistent that it serves a purpose relative to the practice of law. it doesn't, I don't think. it's a social initiation ritual. JMO.

By Blogger TP, at 3:33 PM, May 27, 2005  

First, just because you spent three years in law school doesn't mean you studied anything. I know people who did very little and couldn't tell you the difference between the rule against hearsay and whether evidence is relevant or not.

Second, I don't know whether or not this is a good way of controlling the profession, but I accept it because I'm joining the profession. I think that limits on who can enter is a good thing. Would I like to see changes? Sure. But it is a method of keeping the numbers of lawyers who can practice in a given state down.

There are many things I didn't like doing to get into varoius groups, but I've done it because that was their method for determining who is a potentially good member. The State Bar does it with an exam at first blush. Then they monitor attornies in the state with CLEs (why not abolish those wastes of time and money?) and disciplinary committees (why not do like the medical profession and forget about discipline?).

By Blogger Curtis, at 5:19 PM, May 27, 2005  

Well part of the "bar exam" is the character and fitness questionaire with background checks so it isn't a complete waste of time.

It's also a way for state bars to raise money. (because I doubt that anyone used the 350 dollars worth of preparing anything.

By Blogger Melissa, at 1:14 AM, May 29, 2005  

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