Paul L. Caron

Monday, January 27, 2020

Building A Better Bar Exam

ABA Journal, A Better Bar Exam? Law Profs Weigh In On Whether Test Accurately Measures Skills Required For Law Practice:

[S]ome lawyers say that little has changed with bar exams nationwide, and there are still concerns about whether the test accurately evaluates skills needed to practice law. Others have argued that today’s technology could handle many methods of bar exam testing than seemed impossible in 1980.

“It’s an excellent barrier to entry, and it’s also a superb hazing ritual. But neither of those things are tasks it’s supposed to fill. The practicing bar should be interested in having a licensing requirement that requires a competent lawyer, not one that keeps out the competition,” says Joan Howarth, the former dean at Michigan State University College of Law who’s now at University of Nevada Las Vegas William S. Boyd School of Law. ...

[I]n recent years, there has been a significant amount of ongoing research looking at whether the bar exam as we know it is a good tool to assess if someone is ready to practice law. Between 2018 and 2019 three legal organizations funded separate studies about the bar exam. Also, the American Bar Association in 2017 appointed a commission that is considering suggestions for change in training and testing future law students. All the work is ongoing.

Additionally, the topic is being studied by New York, Indiana and California. Nevada is planning to launch a study in early 2020, focusing on whether bar exam scores correlate with attorney skills among new lawyers. ...

In January 2018, the NCBE appointed a testing task force, which by the end of 2020 will finalize a report with recommendations about how the bar exam should test competence for entry-level lawyers in a changing profession. ...

The Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, an independent research center at the University of Denver, is also funding an ongoing bar exam study. It focuses on defining minimum competences needed to practice law, with research including 60 focus groups in 12 states. Eighty percent of the groups have attorneys licensed for no more than three years who are surveyed on what knowledge and skills they needed their first year in practice and whether they learned the skills in law school or at work.

Derek Muller (Pepperdine), Thoughts on a "Better Bar Exam"

Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink


The bar exam isn't perfect but the pretentious drawn out Q&A based first year law curriculum is worse (at a "prestigious" school; my friend's lower-rated place taught useful stuff) and that burn-a-bachelor's-before rule is obscene.

Posted by: Anand Desai | Jan 27, 2020 9:35:25 PM