Sunday, May 31, 2009

Qualifications of Supreme Court Justices

A friend of mine prepared this chart to compare the qualifications of the Supreme Court Justices presently on the court and Judge Sotomayor's qualifications.



Education: B.A. and Masters in English University of Chicago, JD at Northwestern School of Law on GI bill, highest GPA in school’s history Magna Cum Laude

Professional Experience: Int. Officer WWII, Bronze Star for Codebreaking, Clerked for SC, 18 yrs private practice w/some govt work too

District Court Experience: 0 years

Court of Appeals Experience: 5 years

Professorial Experience: Professor at University of Chicago School of Law in Anti-Trust


Education: A.B. Georgetown Summa Cum Laude History, J.D. Harvard, Magna Cum Laude, Law Review Notes Editor

Professional Experience: 5 yrs private practice, 6 yrs serving as Gen Counsel for various Telecommunications Agencies for Nixon/Ford

District Court Experience: 0

Court of Appeals Experience: 4 years (DC Cir of Appeals)

Professorial Experience: Professor at University of Virginia, University of Chicago, Georgetown, Tulane, Stanford


Education: B.A. Poly Sci Stanford, LLB Harvard Law School

Professional Experience: 14 yrs private practice, various govt committee representation work

District Court Experience: 0 years

Court of Appeals Experience: 13 years

Professorial Experience: Professor McGeorge School of Law University of Pacific (Con Law)


Education: A.B. Stanford, B.A. Magdalen College Oxford, LLB Harvard Law School

Professional Experience: Clerked at SC, 15 years govt counsel work including a Watergate spec. prosecutor

District Court Experience: 0 years

Court of Appeals Experience: 14 years

Professorial Experience: Professor Harvard Law School


Education: A.B. Harvard, AB Magdalen College (Rhodes Scholar), M.A. Oxford, LLB Harvard Law

Professional Experience: 3 yrs private practice, New Hampshire AG office until made Atty Gen of NH

District Court Experience: 0 yrs (but 5 yrs Sup Ct. Judge NH plus 7 yrs NH Supreme Ct.)

Court of Appeals Experience: 4 months

Professorial Experience: none


Education: A.B. Holy Cross (cum laude), Yale, J.D.

Professional Experience: 3 yrs Asst Atty Gen Mo, 2 yrs private practice, 11 yrs various Govt Agency work including 8 yrs head of EEOC

District Court Experience: 0 years

Court of Appeals Experience: 1 year (DC Cir of Appeals)

Professor Experience: None


Education: B.A., Cornell, LLB, Columbia Law School

Professional Experience: Law Clerk S.D.N.Y., 7 yrs ACLU Gen Counsel

District Court Experience: 0 years

Court of Appeals Experience: 13 years (DC Cir of Appeals)

Professorial Experience: 19 yrs Law Professor/legal scholar at Columbia, Rutgers, and Stanford


Education: B.A. Princeton, J.D. Yale Law School

Professional Experience: Law Clerk (3rd Cir), 4 yrs Asst US Atty, 6 yrs Asst to Sol. Gen. and Atty Gen, 3 yrs US Atty NJ

District Court Experience: 0 years

Court of Appeals Expereince: 16 years

Professorial Experience: Seton Hall Law Professor

Roberts (Chief Justice)

Education: A.B. Harvard, J.D. Harvard Law School

Professional Experience: Law Clerk (2nd Cir), SC Law Clerk, 6 yrs var govt atty jobs incl White House Counsel for Reagan, 6 yrs private practice

District Court: 0 years

Court of Appeals: 2 yrs (DC Cir of Appeals)

Professorial Experience: None



Education: A.B. Princeton, Summa Cum Laude, J.D. Yale Law School, Editor of Yale Law Journal

Work Experience: 5 yrs ADA NYC, 7 yrs private practice

District Court Expereince: 7 yrs S.D.N.Y.

Court of Appeals Experience: 11 years

Friday, May 29, 2009

Bringing Up the Rear - Georgia Bar Results February 2009

Georgia bar exam results for February 2009 will be posted at 4:30 pm today, according to their website. I wonder why they are so late? Repeat takers and first time takers should already be studying for July’s bar.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Your Study Plan for the Bar – Read, Learn, Recite, Memorize, Test, and Move On

In addition to putting in the study time, you need to learn how to maximize your study time. How do you go about getting the biggest bang out of your study time?

First, build a good, solid foundation of the black letter law. In order to have a good foundation, you must review each bar exam subject. Go through each subject, one by one and absorb each subject as best you can. As you go through the subject, make sure you understand the basic law before you move on.

To build a foundation of the law, you need to break the subject areas into more manageable components. Break your subject into topics. And go through the elements of the topics of each subject.

What I mean by that is to take a subject, like Torts. Then break the Tort subject down to topics, i.e. Negligence. Do you know all the elements of negligence? Do you know the elements of battery? You can outline it and/or make sure you know it by heart before you move on. You can do that memorization by reciting it or writing it down without looking at your notes or outlines.

Once you feel you know that topic, do a few essay questions and some MBE on that topic just so you know you have it.

Don’t scatter-shoot your studying. Learn the topic thoroughly before you move on to your next topic in the subject area. Don’t go through the topics of the subject areas all at once, i.e. don’t go through battery, assault, false imprisonment and not know each one by heart. Stop at battery, recite it, do some MBE and then move to assault, and false imprisonment and the other topics of Torts. Do this for every topic in every subject. You do not want to read your subject outlines like a novel.

Read, learn, recite, memorize, test yourself and move on.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Your Study Plan for the Bar - Study, Sleep, Eat and Exercise Your Way to the Bar Exam

Today marks 62 days to the bar exam. Study, sleep, eat, and exercise. That is all you should do. The temptation to stray or take a few hours or few days off will be with you all summer. Birthdays and parties will continue throughout June and July; there may be weddings, graduations, and other very significant events. You will be tempted at every turn to allow distractions from studying. Well-meaning people who love you will say, "Oh but it's just one party, one night. You're studying all summer; you can take off this one night. It means so much to me...." Resist those voices. That same person who wants you to take time off will not be around or will not understand your devastation when you fail the bar exam.

Accept that you have two more months of study ahead of you. In the scheme of your lifetime, two months is not a lot of time to get yourself ready or to sacrifice to get yourself ready. It’s worth two months of your time to have a lifetime career as a lawyer.

It's all about getting yourself ready for the best performance of your life in July. In August you can make it up to everyone around you, but now just focus.
Happy Studying!!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

New Supreme Court Pick - It's Sonia Sotomayor

The new Supreme Court pick will be Sonia Sotomayor. She's from the 2nd Court of Appeals and she will be the first Hispanic justice, if approved by the Senate.

Sonia Sotomayor graduated with a BA from Princeton University, summa cum laude, in 1976 and earned her JD from Yale Law School where she was the editor of the Yale Law Journal. Judge Sotomayor served as an Assistant DA in New York, was in private partner and was then nominated by President George H. Bush in 1991 to the District Court for the Southern District of New York. She took her seat in August of 1992.

In 1995, Judge Sotomayor effectively ended the baseball strike when she issued a preliminary injunction against the owners, preventing them from using replacement players. In another case, she issued an order allowing the Wall Street Journal to publish Vince Foster’s suicide note.

President Bill Clinton nominated Judge Sotomayor to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. The Senate blocked her nomination for over a year, but she was finally approved in 1998.

Interestingly, she threw out the firefighter case in New Haven that alleged reverse discrimination against white firefighters when New Haven threw out the exam because there are virtually no minority firefighters in New Haven. The Supreme Court has that case now and will be announcing their decision soon. My guess is that Judge Sotomayor’s decision will be reversed.

She is considerate a moderate liberal. Apparently, the conservatives are going to be gearing up for a fight. But I suspect, conservatives would have been unhappy with any pick.

She has had lifelong diabetes. Her parents are from Puerto Rico, an American territory.

Congratulations to Judge Sotomayor.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Crunch Time to the Bar – Do You Have Your Study Plan?

Congratulations to all the law school graduates and the families that supported you through your law studies.

Now comes the hard part – the Bar Exam. There are now only 65 days until the July 2009 Bar Exam. A question I am always asked is when should you start studying for the July Bar. I saw one of my students yesterday and he told me that he would begin his studies the day when his commercial bar review begins on Tuesday. I extracted his promise that prior to Tuesday, he would start reviewing the materials so he is at least familiar with the tested subjects once he starts his bar review. What I want to tell him and all of you is, as you await your bar review course to begin, think about how you want to study and, yes, develop that study plan this weekend.
Why a study plan? In order to pass the bar, you need two things: time-management and discipline. Sticking to a study plan will conquer both requirements. Thorough preparation is the key to passing the exam and having a plan in place will allow you to manage your time and using your discipline to stick to the study schedule. For a plan to work, you have to address your learning style as well as the substantive areas you will be tested on.

What do I mean by learning style? Ask yourself, how do you learn? What worked for you in law school? Some people like reading outlines, some like to do practice questions and then read the answer explanations, some like to do their own outlines, or make up flashcards. You should know the answer to this question by now. How do you best learn or memorize the substantive law? Also, ask yourself, when do you best learn? I personally am a better morning learner. As the day goes on, I start to lose focus. I also like to do my work in blocks of time. My colleague is like a sprinter. He focuses on his work in short bursts. I’m like a marathon runner. I like to do my work, and, not be disturbed for a few hours at a time. While practicing law, I tell my secretary to hold all calls for a stretch of time until I’m ready to take a break. What works for you? Do you like the evening hours to study, do you take frequent breaks. Know all of that before you write your study plan. Also, just prior to the bar, switch over to the bar schedule. Get up early, as if you are taking the bar, and work for those 3 hours as if you are sitting for the bar, break for lunch and do another 3 hour stretch to mimic the bar.

For your study plan, you should first start with relearning and reviewing the outlines with some practice questions thrown in and as you pick up the pace, you’ll reverse it and do more practice questions and essays and only use your outlines for clarification on questions you get wrong or confused about.

In the beginning, you are going to struggle with the voluminous materials, but keep at it and keep pushing the pace. It’s like training for a race. You first have to struggle through the repetition until it starts feeling right and you start performing at your optimal level.

Be realistic with your goals and your study habits. For example, you can’t go throughout the entire day with no lunch or no exercise or no breaks because you were unrealistic in the time aspect of your plan. You have to write a study plan that suits you and your personality without slacking off.

Don’t ignore your weak areas or your strong areas. You may not need to schedule as much time in your stronger subjects, but review them as consistently as you do all the other subjects. You may not need to read or reread the outlines of your strong subjects, but during those time periods, practice your questions. You may need those extra points on the bar. For your weaker subjects, don’t spend too much time obsessing on your lack of knowledge or take away from other subjects you also need to study; and do not ignore your weak subjects. All bar examinees have weak subjects. Again, spend time on those subjects as you would other subjects and just keep practicing. You’ll be surprised at how much you really do know in those weak subjects.

Where should you study? Again, that depends on your learning style. Can you get work done at home or does the distraction of the television or the computer or the phone make you turn it on? Does studying at your school make you study more or do your fellow students distract you and make you chatter rather than study? Make sure wherever you go that it is quiet. Turn off the phone, the text messaging, and the internet. This is too important for you and your career to be easily distracted. Let’s face it – none of us what to spend the next 6 weeks in constant study – it’s torture. As the holidays go by, the warm weather beckons you outside, you are stuck inside studying, studying, studying and having absolutely no fun at all. Just remember this is your career you are talking about. You sacrificed to go to law school, you can sacrifice for the next 6 weeks and you’ll be a lawyer for the rest of your career.

Should you have study partners? I am not a fan of them, myself, but I have changed my mind as I’ve seen many a successful pair that have pushed and pulled each other, with both coming out successfully in the end. I would not advise more than 1 other study partner except on rare occasions. For those who like to study alone, maybe once a few days, studying with someone can help keep you focused. I also think that knowing you are not the only one studying away is helpful to keep up your morale.

I have a few more ideas for you but I'll leave that to another day.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

MBE Changes for July 29, 2009A Comparison Between February 2009 Bar Exam Results and July 2008 Bar Exam Results

I noticed , as I was posting the results of the various bar exams, that the February 2009 bar results were much lower than the July 2008 bar results, across the board and across the jurisdictions. Let’s look at a few jurisdictions for first time takers:

State.............February 2009................ July 2008...............Change

Florida................ 67.8%......................87.8%.....................20%

Ohio................... 77.3%......................88.8%.....................11.5%

California............. 47%........................75.0%.....................28.0%

DC..................... 57%........................71.0%.....................14.0%

NY..................... 73.3%......................91.0%.....................17.7%

Texas.................. 77.3%......................85.2%......................7.9%

CT..................... 63.7%......................81.6%.....................17.9%

How do we interpret these numbers? Are February numbers traditionally lower or was it a common denominator like the MBE that was harder this go around?

February numbers are usually lower than July number, despite the fact that we usually just look at the first time takers. If we went back for a few years, February numbers are lower than July bar results. Connecticut does a comparison from February 2000 to present and their average February numbers are 68.1% while their July numbers average out to 77.4%. Using Connecticut numbers, the difference between February bar results and July bar results are dramatic.

What about the MBE? Do you think that the MBE is getting harder? I heard from my students that some of the questions were truly bizarre and “not what they expected” on the February 2009 test. As we know, MBE consistently evaluates and reevaluates its questions and we’ll see on July 2009 test whether the changes on the MBE are going to make a striking difference.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

MBE Changes for July 29, 2009

We would like everyone to be alerted to the changes on the MBE, effective, this July, so that all law school graduates will be prepared.

For those not taking the commercial bar review courses, studying on their own and/or who may be using materials from prior years, please be aware of these changes in the 200 question format of the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE):

1. There will be No “none of the above” or “all of the above” answer choices.
2. There will be no “if” or “unless” in the answer choices.
3. The MBE examiners will not use names, but will use common nouns (e.g. a painter, not Pat the painter).
4. There will be no roman numeral or “K-type” questions (e.g., I is true, but II and III are not true).
5. There will be no series of questions relating to a fact pattern. Instead, only one question will relate to one fact pattern.

I wonder if this will make the MBE harder or easier to understand? Knowing the MBE, I think it will make the MBE harder.

I think most are just cosmetic changes, for example, using plaintiff or defendant instead of some ridiculous sounding names. For my final exam one semester, just to mess with my students, I used all of their names in my fact pattern. I didn’t know if the student would be distracted by it, but they were actually quite pleased. I was surprised at their reactions. A few even came up to me to thank me for making them the DA or the mayor or something equally important sounding. Of course, I made sure none of them were the criminal defendants.

Using “none of the above” or “all of the above” in the answer choices could sometimes be tricky as well as the roman numeral or K-type questions, but I always found , the “if” or “unless” changes to the fact pattern to sometimes be so tricky, you end up blowing the question. I think it was wise to get rid of the “if” and “unless” questions.

The most significant change and, I think, probably the most interesting change, is the series of question for one fact pattern. I think we all went through law school with those types of questions. The one problem with them is that if you didn’t read the question thoroughly, just glanced at it, or missed something significant in the fact pattern, you could blow 3 or 4 questions off of just one fact pattern. The upside was you only had to read a fact pattern once and you could blow by 3 or 4 questions quickly, earning some breathing room for the 100 questions per session. I wonder now if this will end up hurting the slower reading applicants or if it will help them. I guess we’ll see how the MBE scores changes next September and October.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Michigan Bar Results for February 2009 Have Been Mailed

This afternoon, the Michigan Bar Examiners have posted a notice that the results of the February 2009 bar examination were released to applicants on Tuesday, May 19, 2009. The results were mailed by United States Postal Service to the address registered with the Board of Law Examiners.

The names of certified passers will be posted on their web site on May 22, 2009
after 12:00 p.m. Applicants will be listed by name only.

Good luck to Michigan takers. Let us know how you do.

What's Up With Michigan Bar Exam Results for February 2009?

The law graduates who took the Michigan Bar Exam in February 2009 have still not received their results yet. What's up with the wait? I have personally taken and passed 3 bars and each wait was an eternity. By now, I'm sure the applicants are feeling anxious and nervous. Why make it even worse by this untenable wait for results? Even the biggest jurisdictions, like California and New York, have come out. Michigan can't be that hard to grade. It is also makes it even harder, if the applicant failed, to not have as much time as possible to first grieve over not passing and then to begin the studying process for July. Michigan needs to speed up their results, for real.

For those still waiting, I hope you have good news when Michigan gets around to giving you the results.

Monday, May 18, 2009

ABA Rule 301-6: Schools that Face the Stress Test: Texas Southern University School of Law

Previously, we looked at two schools to see if they could pass the “bar” stress test of ABA Rule 301-6.

We looked at a provisionally accredited law school, LaVerne School of Law, in California, and a fully accredited school, Quinnipiac University School of Law, in Connecticut.

We concluded that LaVerne School of Law is currently not in compliance with ABA Standard 301-6 and will probably have to restructure its bar preparation programs if LaVerne wants to be fully accredited. Quinnipiac ‘s bar numbers tell us a different story than LaVerne. Quinnipiac ‘s bar numbers look strong and the school is in compliance with ABA Standard 301-6 for 2007 and 2008, the two years we are basing our study on (the ABA looks at 5 years).

Now, let’s look at a school that is fully accredited and, even at a cursory glance. is clearly not in compliance.

Today, let’s see how Texas Southern University School of Law does:

Texas Southern (TSU)
State: Texas
Status: Fully Accredited

February 2007 Overall Pass Rate: 45.7% (105 takers, 48 passers)
1st Time Takers: 54.8% (31 takers, 17 passers)
State Average: 79.1%

24.3% below state average; 20.2% below the 75% ABA standard

July 2007 Overall Pass Rate: 57.4% (169 takers, 97 passers)
1st Time Takers: 65.4% (124 takers, 81 passers)
State Average: 87.9%

22.5% below state average; 9.6% below the 75% ABA standard

Total 2007 Overall Pass Rate: 52.9% (274 takers, 145 passers)

22.1% below 75% ABA standard

February 2008 Overall Pass Rate: 50% (80 takers, 40 passers)
1st Time Takers: 59.3% (27 takers, 16 passers)
State Average: 85%

25.3% below state average; 15.7% below the 75% ABA standard

July 2008 Overall Pass Rate
: 55.6% (178 takers, 99 passers)
1st Time Takers: 59.7% (139 takers, 83 passers)
State Average: 86.9%

27.2% below state average; 15.3% below the 75% ABA standard.

Total 2008 Overall Pass Rate: 53.9% (258 takers, 139 passers)

21.1% below the 75% ABA standard

February 2009 Overall Pass Rate: 34.7% (95 takers, 33 passers)
1st Time Takers: 40.7% (27 takers, 11 passers)
State Average: 81.5%

40.8% below state average; 34.3% below the 75% ABA standard.

As we can see TSU is out of compliance and, perhaps, out of time. TSU has not been in compliance in any category that the ABA Rule 301-6 demands. The school is not even close. TSU must be within 15% of the state average, yet it routinely comes in last place, trailing behind the state average by an appalling 20% - 25%. February 2009 was even more abysmal – an outrageous 40.8% below the state average.

TSU’s yearly bar pass rate is in the low 50% range, a good 22%-25% lower than what the ABA rule 301-6 requires.

TSU’s law graduates are performing very poorly on the bar exam. It is hard to fathom that a publicly funded institution can only see half of their graduates pass the bar per year. Has the school implemented any programs to help the graduates? TSU needs quick and effective resuscitation prior to its visit by the ABA or else the school will be looking at losing their accreditation and being placed on probation.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

California Bar Results for February 2009

The February 2009 California bar results have come in. Here are the statistics. We'll post the different law school statistics are soon as they are posted.

School Type.................................... First-Timers/Repeaters

California ABA ........................................... 53%/37%

Out-of-State ABA........................................ 45%/33%

CA (but not ABA) Accredited........................... 25%/11%

Unaccredited/Fixed Facility............................ 0%/3%

Distance Learning.........................................31%/12%

All Others ...................................................51%/21%

All Applicants............................................. 47%/26%

The California Bar Examiners' press release indicated that for February 2009 statistics were: 4084 applicants took the bar, 1368 applicants passed and the total percentage passed was 33.5%

Interestingly, as with other state exams, February's bar pass rates were much lower than their July counterparts. In California, July 2008's total percentge passed rate was 61.7%.

Next week, it will be time to discuss why the February 2009 results were much lower than the July 2008 results across the jurisdictions.

Congratulations to the new lawyers in California!! Great job in passing the hardest bar in the nation!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Waiting for Godot, or, in this case, Waiting for California

For those who are unfamiliar with Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, the play follows two days in the lives of a pair of men who divert themselves while they wait expectantly and unsuccessfully for someone named Godot to arrive. To occupy themselves, they eat, sleep, converse, argue, sing, play games, exercise, swap hats, and contemplate suicide — anything "to hold the terrible silence at bay".

I'm sure this sounds familiar to approximately 5000 law school graduates who lives are on hold until 6:00 pm today, waiting for the results of the hardest bar exam in the nation.

Unfortunately for bar examinees who are waiting for the California results to come in, they still have a few more hours to pass the time and are trying anything to "hold the terrible silence at bay" as they wait for their attorney lives to resolve successfully or, at least this time, unsuccessfully. Regardless of the result, your life changes dramatically in just a few hours. Will you be successful or will you have the fortitude to go at it again if you are not?

In my experience, these last few hours are probably the worst of the wait - knowing its coming in as the time seems to go by infuriatingly slowly. Your parents, your friends, your family, your co-workers are also taking that slow wait with you, hoping and praying that you will be successful.

Good luck for those who wait and we here at BarProfessors hope your legal dreams come true tonight.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

ABA Standard 301-6: Schools that Face the Stress Test: Quinnipiac

Yesterday, we looked at LaVerne School of Law in California and determined that it is currently not in compliance with ABA Standard 301-6 and will probably have to restructure its bar preparation programs if LaVerne wants to be fully accredited.

Now, let’s look at a school that is fully accredited and see if it’s in compliance. Although the ABA looks at 5 years, we are looking at years 2007 and 2008 and February 2009, if the results have been reported.

Today, let’s see how Qunnipiac University School of Law does:

Quinnipiac University School of Law
State: Connecticut
Status: Fully Accredited

February 2007 Overall Pass Rate: 57.1% (49 takers, 25 passers)

1st Time Takers: 79%; State Average for Connecticut: 83%

4% below state average; 17.9% above 75% standard

July 2007 Overall Pass Rate: 83.7% (160 takers, 134 passers)

1st Time Takers: 92%; State Average for Connecticut: 86%

7% above state average; 8.7% above 75% standard

Total 2007 Overall Pass Rate: 76.1% (209 takers, 159 passers)

1.1% above 75% standard

February 2008 Overall Pass Rate: 63% (48 takers, 30 passers)

1st time takers: 85%; State Average 83%

2% above state average; 12% below 75% standard

July 2008 Overall Pass Rate: 85% (97 takers, 82 passers)

1st Time Takers: 95%; State Average: 88%

7% above state average; 10% above 75% standard

Total 2008 Overall Pass Rate: 77.2% (145 takers, 112 passers)

2.2% above 75% standard

February 2009 Overall Pass Rate: 50% (18 takers, 9 passers)

1st Time Takers: 50%; State Average 75%

25% below state average

In the 2008 US News and World Report, Quinnipiac University School of Law increased in ranking 8 points from the prior year, to #108. Quinnipiac is considered to be a 3rd tier school.

For the year 2007, Quinnipiac has stayed in compliance with ABA 301-6. It’s overall bar pass rate for 2007 squeaks by with a 76.1%, 1.1% over the 75% standard. Its July 2007 pass rate of 83.7% helped for its weaker performance in February 2007 of 57.1%. Its first time takers rocked the house with its July 2007 rate of 92%, well above the state average, again pushing its weaker performance in February 2007 of first time taker rate of 79%, 4% below the state average.

For the year 2008, Quinnipiac also stayed in compliance. It’s overall bar pass rate for 2008 was a nice 77.2%, again above the 75% standard. Again, it had a weaker February performance with their July 2008 graduates rocking the house with an impressive 95% first time taker rate. Wow, that is quite impressive for a “3rd Tier school”. Whatever Quinnipiac is doing, they are doing it well.

I’ve have noticed a trend with Quinnipiac and their much weaker February performances. Only recently, for the February 2009 bar, they had both a 50% first time rate and an overall bar pass rate, which was 25% below the state average. It either has weaker part-time students or those full time students who rush out of law school after 2 ½ years, aren’t bringing it to the table. To tell the truth, I have never been a fan of full time students who take an easier summer class or two in order to graduate in February. It would be worth looking into for Quinnipiac to try to figure out why their February performance is so far below their July rates.

Suffice to say, Quinnipiac is doing a terrific job in staying in compliance with the new bar pass rates. Good job, Quinnipiac.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

ABA Standard 301-6: Schools that Face the Stress Test: LaVerne School of Law

According to some, there are about 25 law schools that will have trouble keeping in compliance with the ABA Standard 301-6. Just to see how the standard will work, I picked 3 schools from 3 different jurisdictions to determine whether those law schools comply with ABA 301-6. Although 5 years of statistics are usually used, I will use 2007 and 2008 with February 2009 thrown in.

Today, let’s see how LaVerne does:

University of LaVerne School of Law
State: California
Status: Provisionally Accredited

February 2007 Overall Pass Rate: 29.2% (48 takers and 14 passers)

1st time pass rate: 45%; state average first time pass rate-CA ABA schools: 61%

16% below state average

July 2007 Overall Pass Rate: 46% (76 takers and 35 passers)

1st time pass rate: 57%; state average first time pass rate – CA ABA schools: 76%

19% below state average

Total 2007 Overall Pass Rate: 39.5% (124 takers and 49 passers)

35.5% below the 75% standard

February 2008 Overall Pass Rate: 36.2% (47 takers and 17 passers)

1st time pass rate: 50%; state average first time pass rate – CA ABA schools: 62%

12% below state average

July 2008 Overall Pass Rate: 50% (84 takers and 42 passers)

1st time pass rate: 61%; state average first time pass rate – CA ABA schools : 83%

22% below state average

Total 2008 Overall Pass Rate: 45% (131 takers and 59 passers)

30% below the 75% average

February 2009 will be out on May 15th.

As we can see, LaVerne has a tough climb upward if it hopes to turn its provisionally accredited status to full accreditation status. Only in February 2008 did the school come into compliance by being 15% or under (in this case, 12%) the state average.

The yearly totals for 2008 and 2007 are abysmal, with numbers not even in the ballpark to 75%. Unless LaVerne makes some drastic changes in its bar preparation or hires a dynamo to completely revitalize its efforts, the ABA cannot possibly give LaVerne full accreditation, in my opinion.

For once there is a clear objective standard to judge law schools and, from the numbers of its two latest years, LaVerne may be years away from earning its accreditation.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

ABA Standard 301-6: Out of Compliance, Out of Time

As we continue our discussion of what ABA Standard 301-6 entails, we will discuss what happens when a school is found out of compliance.

ABA Standard 301-6 states that a school found out of compliance and has not been able to come into compliance within a two year period may seek to demonstrate good cause for extending the period the school has to demonstrate compliance by submitting evidence of:

· The school’s trend in bar passage rates for both first-time and subsequent takers: a clear trend of improvement will be considered in the school’s favor, a declining or flat trend against it.

· The length of time the school’s bar passage rates have been below the first-time and ultimate rates established in paragraph A: a shorter time period will be considered in the school’s favor, a longer period against it.

· Actions by the school to address bar passage, particularly the school’s academic rigor and the demonstrated value and effectiveness of the school’s academic support and bar preparation programs: value-added, effective, sustained and pervasive actions to address bar passage problems will be considered in the school’s favor; ineffective or only marginally effective programs or limited action by the school against it.

· Efforts by the school to facilitate bar passage for its graduates who did not pass the bar on prior attempts: effective and sustained efforts by the school will be considered in the school’s favor; ineffective or limited efforts by the school against it.

· Efforts by the school to provide broader access to legal education while maintaining academic rigor: sustained meaningful efforts will be viewed in the school’s favor; intermittent or limited efforts against it.

· The demonstrated likelihood that the school’s students who transfer to other ABA-approved schools will pass the bar examination: transfers by students with a strong likelihood of passing the bar will be considered in the school’s favor, providing the school has undertaken counseling and other appropriate efforts to retain its well-performing students.

· Temporary circumstances beyond the control of the school, but which the school is addressing: for example, a natural disaster that disrupts the school’s operations or a significant increase in the standard for passing the relevant bar examination(s).

· Other factors, consistent with a school’s demonstrated and sustained mission, which the school considers relevant in explaining its deficient bar passage results and in explaining the school’s efforts to improve them.

A good cause extension is not automatic nor is it indefinite in its duration.

In other words, a law school will eventually have to be in compliance with ABA Standard 301-6.

Whether the school gets a good cause extension or not, the clock is running as to whether those schools not in compliance today can make it over this tough new standard. There is a list floating around that states that at least 25 existing law schools will have trouble complying with this standard.

Monday, May 11, 2009

ABA Standard 301-6: Law Schools Must Put Up or Shut Down on Bar Pass Rates

The new ABA standard 301-6 is compelling law schools to account for its bar pass rates. If the law school falls out of compliance, a loss of accreditation, being put on probation or even closing down are very real possibilities. Today, let’s examine what the standard actually says.

A law school’s bar passage rate shall be sufficient, for purposes of Standard 301(a), if the school demonstrates that it meets any one of the following tests:

(1) That for students who graduated from the law school within the five most recently completed calendar years:

(a) 75 percent or more of these graduates who sat for the bar passed a bar examination, or

(b) in at least three of these calendar years, 75 percent of the students graduating in those years and sitting for the bar have passed a bar examination.

In demonstrating compliance under sections (1)(a) and (b), the school must report bar passage results from as many jurisdictions as necessary to account for at least 70% of its graduates each year, starting with the jurisdiction in which the highest number of graduates took the bar exam and proceeding in descending order of frequency.

(2) That in three or more of the five most recently completed calendar years, the school’s annual first-time bar passage rate in the jurisdictions reported by the school is no more than 15 points below the average first-time bar passage rates for graduates of ABA-approved law schools taking the bar examination in these same jurisdictions.

In demonstrating compliance under section (2), the school must report first-time bar passage data from as many jurisdictions as necessary to account for at least 70 percent of its graduates each year, starting with the jurisdiction in which the highest number of graduates took the bar exam and proceeding in descending order of frequency. When more than one jurisdiction is reported, the weighted average of the results in each of the reported jurisdictions shall be used to determine compliance.

All law schools will be required to maintain a 75% bar pass rate, which includes all takers, even with the weaker repeat takers, or must stay within 15% striking distance of the state average.

Compliance with ABA Standard 301-6 looks to be a heavy burden to those schools in the middle to lower tiers, perhaps even affecting 2nd tier schools. There can also be a disparity of where the school is located. For example, schools in the jurisdictions with harder bars, like California, are going to be greatly affected by this standard.

Are those struggling law schools going to be able to put up, will they have to lock or close their doors or will they have to change who they let enter their schools?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Reality of the New ABA Standard 301-6: This is Not Your Grandfather's Law School

The law school experience is no longer your grandfather's law school. I'm sure every potential law student has read or has seen the movie version of the 1970's novel, The Paper Chase. If you remember, Professor Kingsfield's contract classes at Harvard sparked lively classroom debates and challenged the students, but the twist at the end of the novel is that he didn't know the names of the students or even recognized the protagonist. For him, the class was only a group of people, simply names on a paper. In today's new reality, law schools will have to move past the academic exercise and look at more practical ways for their students to pass the bar.

The new ABA standard 301-6 sets the stage for law schools to put up or shut up. ABA standard 301-6, passed in February 2008, mandates all law students from all jurisdictions pass the bar exam at a rate of 75% or that law student's school will be held in non-compliance thereby jeopardizing their ABA accreditation status.

It will be a new awakening for professors who wish to remain in their ivory towers, like Professor Kingsfield. The standard for assessing the effect to which a law school complies with 301-6 is the rigors of its academic programs and, most importantly, the bar pass rates of its graduates. Can both the academic exercise of law school combined with the practicalities of getting the students to pass the bar at a 75% pass rate co-exist?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Those Pesky Ethical Situations

Many bar exams, if not most bar exams, test professional conduct issues. You would think that after taking and passing the MPRE and after answering professional conduct questions on the bar, you would know that the bar examiners love to test applicants on money and sex. Well, here is one lawyer who ignored his ethical responsibilities to his client and to the public. Fortunately, he is no longer a scourge on the legal profession. The Florida Supreme Court disbarred a lawyer for having sex with his client.

James Harvey Tipler was a lawyer who let a female client work off her fee through sex .The justices Thursday cited Tipler's guilty plea to solicitation to prostitution as one of several instances of professional misconduct. Tipler admitted having sex with his 18-year-old client and another woman in exchange for credits toward her $2,300 fee for handling a Bay County assault case, the justices wrote. He agreed to take off $200 every time he had sex with her and $400 when she arranged sex with another woman. The justices also found in other cases he altered evidence, caused a witness to give false testimony, charged excessive fees and stole clients' money.

You can find the complete case on the Florida Supreme Court website, if you want to read all the gory details. This dude was a piece of work. The case is entitled, The Florida Bar v. James Harvey Tipler. He actually had 3 separate cases pending, which was consolidated in this opinion. Also arising out of the same incident of having sex with his client, Tippler had been suspended for 15 months in Alabama. He also failed to report the suspension to the Florida bar within the 3 day requirement. Tipler was also facing discplinary problems in California

The list of violations of the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar (Professional Conduct Rules in Florida) reads like a laundry list: 3-4.3 (“The commission by a lawyer of any act that is unlawful or contrary to honesty and justice, whether the act is committed in the course of the attorney’s relations as an attorney or otherwise, whether committed within or outside the state of Florida, and whether or not the act is a felony or misdemeanor, may constitute a cause for discipline.”); 3-4.4 (indicating that criminal misconduct is a cause for discipline); 3-7.2(l)(1) (“A member of The Florida Bar who . . . has been . . . suspended from the practice of law by a court or other authorized disciplinary agency of another state . . . shall within 30 days . . . [notify] the Supreme Court of Florida and the executive director of The Florida Bar . . . .”); 4-1.2(d) (“A lawyer shall not counsel a client to engage, or assist a client, in conduct that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is criminal or fraudulent.”); 4-1.5(a) (“An attorney shall not enter into an agreement for, charge, or collect an illegal, prohibited, or clearly excessive fee or cost . . . .”);
4-8.4(a) (“A lawyer shall not . . . violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another.”); 4-8.4(b) (“A lawyer shall not . . . commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects.”); 4-8.4(d) (“A lawyer shall not . . . engage in conduct . . . that is prejudicial to the administration of justice . . . .”); and 4-8.4(i) (“A lawyer shall not . . . engage in sexual conduct with a client that exploits . . . the lawyer-
client relationship . . . .”).

Tipler also submitted to court a videotape of a plaintiff in a medical malpractice case - in which he edited out and deleted all the bad stuff in the videotape. Just unbelievable.

Good riddance to a disgusting and sleezy member of our legal profession.

For students taking the Florida bar, I would advise you to read this case in depth - who knows, you might see it on a future bar exam.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Connecticut Law School Pass Rates

The Connecticut Bar Examiners announced the law school bar pass rate on the February 2009 bar exam. I think its important to post the law school numbers for all to see. I have talked with representatives of law schools (most notably in California and Florida) who have maintained, for example, that their repeat bar taker rate was higher than their first time taker rate, which is mathematically impossible. We, the public, have a right to be given the accurate and raw numbers - not numbers have been sanitized or spun into something that it is not. With the passing of ABA Rule 301-6, law schools will have to account for all of their graduates and not just only the first time takers. Notably, repeat takers have more difficulty passing the bar and repeat takers will have a downward slide on the school's overall rate.

Although other schools in the tri-state area have their students take the Connecticut bar, I will give you the rates for the Connecticut schools:


Overall bar pass rate: 50%
First time takers: 50%
2nd Time takers: 50%
3+ Time Takers: 50%


Overall bar pass rate: 70%
First time takers: 94%
2nd time takers: 33%
3+ time takers: 40%


Overall bar pass rate: 100%
First time takers: 100%
2nd time takers: no takers
3+ time takers: no takers

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Washington D.C. Bar Pass Rate is Revealed

Washington DC has announced that 116 applicants passed the bar exam out of 262 applicants. This represents a 57% pass rate among first-time takers or an overall pass rate of 44%.

Pass rates are low across the board on the February 2009 results. As usual, the repeat bar takers rate significantly brings down the overall pass rate. In Washington DC the overall pass rate decreased by 13% due to repeat takers.

New York Bar Results are Made Public

We are still waiting for each of the law school results but the results are nevertheless full of interesting data.

According to the New York Bar Examiner's press realease of May 6th, the Board examined 3,560 candidates in February, including 44.1% of whom were foreign educated. Wow, foreign educated examinees is high. As you may know, many LMI programs at law schools, as an example, the University of Wisconsin Law School, allows foreign educated students to study at their school for 2 to 3 years earning an LMI or SJD, allowing the students to be eligible to sit for the New York bar exam.

The passing rate for all candidates, US educated law students, foreign trained lawyers, first time takers and repeat takers, was a 41.7%.

The passing rate for first time takers from ABA approved law schools was 73.3%.

The passing rate for the foreign trained lawyers taking the exam for the first time was 37.1%.

As we can see, foreign trained lawyers and repeat takers really have trouble passing a difficult bar. I have tutored many foreign trained lawyers and it is a difficult process for those whose English is a second language. I couldn't imagine taking a bar in another language besides English and I truly admire those foreign trained lawyers who take a crack at the New York bar exam. Keep at it guys, get some private tutoring and good luck.

Congratulations to those who passed the New York bar exam. Its one of the toughest bars in the country and you've earned your license. Great job to those who passed.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

New York and Washington, DC Bar Exam Results are out Today

February 2009 bar exam results from New York and Washington DC are out today. No public information is out yet, but I'm getting e-mails from those that passed in both of those jurisdictions. I'll post law school results as they come in. Congratulations to those who passed. Those who didn't, take a few days to accept your results and then dig in for a July 2009 pass.

Monday, May 4, 2009

MBE or the Essays, When You Fail The Bar

What happens if you only pass one section of the bar but fail the overall bar? Should you sit for that section that you failed or do you take the entire bar exam over again? I think it depends on which section you passed. I will use Florida as my test case. In this possible scenario, say you pass the Florida section but fail the MBE. Should you take the Florida section again to get carry-over points for your MBE score?

I think it depends on what your MBE score is. I usually tell my students that you have to stay competitive in the MBE and let your extra points on the Florida section pull you over the top. It is my experience that many of the students who pass the bar, do not pass the MBE or only has a 1-5 point pass on the MBE. That is why I think doing well on the Florida essays for those extra overage points can help you pass the overall bar, even if you do not pass the MBE. Here is what I believe about the MBE. I do not think that a repeat taker will do substantially better that they do the first time around. Sure, you might get a few points higher – but if you need to raise your score substantially – i.e. say 7 points or higher, that is a big a mountain to climb.
First, evaluate your scores. Were there subjects that you were just horrible in or were you pretty consistent on each subject? If you were awful in real property, you may, by concentrating on that subject, be able to push your scores up. If you were consistent on each subject, the likelihood of you raising your points by more study is probably not going to happen.
Next, start to re-read your outline book, starting from your weakest subject to your best subject. Then you must again practice, practice, practice. I think commercial review courses will not help at this point. You have learned the most you will learn in your first go around. Listening to 4 hour multistate lectures will not help you.I also believe that once you fail the bar that you would better spend your money on a private tutor, if a repeater is to spend any more money in the process. It is expensive, but working one on one with a qualified (and I mean qualified) tutor will push you over the finish line. To me, no price is too much to get you to your goal and start your life as a lawyer. A private tutor can help with the subject material, motivate you and keep up your confidence.

What you must decide is whether you think that you can score 7+ points on the MBE alone. Therein lies the dilemma. So the discussion now follows whether you should take the essays again.

Evaluate your essay scores. Did you pass the essays with a large margin? If you did, it’s an easier decision to make – you obviously write well and 3 more essays won’t freak you out. I think that if you sharpen up your writing with some more practice essays, you could get maybe another 5-10 points to bring over to your MBE scores. If you passed with only points to spare, you may not be able to pass another 3 more essays That’s the pros and cons of your situation. You must make the decision for yourself. Of course, it is easier to concentrate on only one section of the bar and if you think you can pull it up over 7+ points then go for the MBE alone. But you want to make sure that your second attempt is your last attempt. So do anything and everything to make that happen. Don’t do anything rash or rush your decision making. But I would start reviewing the multistate subjects pretty much immediately. Don’t despair, don’t be depressed, but do get busy.

Next time, if you pass the MBE and not the essays, what should you do?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Goodbye and Good Luck, Justice Souter

Word is out that Justice David Souter will retire. Justice Souter was appointed by George H. Bush in 1990 to replace Justice Brennan. As you can well imagine, the liberals were howling when then-President Bush replaced the bastion of liberalness with a supposed conservative. In the early years of Justice Souter’s term, he usually joined the conservative opinions. But he began moving towards the middle until he started voting with the more liberal justices. It is ironic because when Eisenhower picked Justice Brennan to be a member of the Supreme Court, the Congress and the President thought Justice Brennan would be a conservative justice but ended up as one of the most liberal justices the Supreme Court has had. Much later, Eisenhower thought his choice of Justice Brennan was one of his worst decisions as president.

I do have to admire a justice who can modify his stance instead of stubbornly insisting on ideological positions that never change. Yes, I am one of those people who think that our ideas and positions always evolve and can be changed with due consideration. I also admire a person who retires gracefully instead of some justices who obstinately insist on staying on the bench despite being near death.
Justice Souter co-authored the decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992 which reaffirmed Roe v. Wade, although he thought that restrictions could be placed on abortions. Justice Souter in 2000 dissented in Bush v. Gore, insisting that the presidential election recount should continue. There were allegations that Justice Souter was so disillusioned by that decision that he thought of retirement. Justice Souter also dissented in the recent photo id voter law issue in Crawford v. Marion County. He stated that without a shred of evidence that in-person voter impersonation was a problem in the state, much less a crisis, Indiana had adopted one of the most restrictive photo ID requirements in the country. Souter concluded that the Indiana voter Id law was unconstitutional and that the state interest failed to justify the practical limitations placed on the right to vote and that the law imposed an unreasonable and irrelevant burden on voters who are poor and old.

Have a good retirement, Justice Souter.

Now, the next question is who shall replace Justice Souter. Should Obama look for a person who represents America or do we look for qualities beyond what a person looks like? Can we reconcile those two interests?

The Massachusetts Bar Exam Results Are Now Posted

The Massachusetts bar exam results are now posted. I haven't found the breakdown of the schools yet, but I did find this statistic interesting:

First time takers passed at: 69.2%
Second time takers passed at: 44.6%
Third time takers passed at: 26.5%
Fourth time takers passed at: 18.5%
Fifth Time or more takers passed at: 7.5%
Overall Pass Rate: 54.3%

As you can see, the chances of passing diminish dramatically each time an applicant takes the bar. If a law school states that their repeat takers are higher than the first time takers, the school is not being honest with the students or the public. Does there come a time when the applicant, after taking the bar repeatedly, needs to give up? If the odds are less than 25% should an applicant take those odds? How about that guy in California who has taken the bar over 40 times? Should he just quit taking the bar or does he become an exercise in futility?

Congratulations to the newly minted 316 attorneys.