Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Matsuzaki’s Folly

In Ken Matsuzaki’s quest to pass the New York State bar exam, the seventeenth time was the charm. The test is offered twice a year, in February and July, and Matsuzaki had sat for every one since completing Cardozo law school, in early 2005. He’s taken the bar in Brooklyn, in Albany, in the vast Javits Center, in Manhattan (“I don’t like that one,” he said. “Lines too long at the bathrooms”), and, this past February, in Buffalo. “I like Buffalo,” he said. "Less crowded. I could reserve a hotel very close to the testing place."
Let us honor Ken Matsuzaki; a New Yorker article in the "cutesy" section detailed how cute-cute it was that the tenacious Japanese national took the New York Bar Exam seventeen times, and in different locations—like a sort of lemming/super-snowflake Grand Tour. In the midst of La Débâcle, with applications to law schools declining by one-third in just four years, some schools facing closure,  the market saturated worse than a Crisco-lard hybrid pie crust, and disaster facing even the big law pedigreed, there are still people spending the equivalent of a new car on seventeen bar exam fees when they are not even intending on practicing law (should they actually pass, never a certainty, nor even a likelihood). Further in the article, the New York Bar, when asked for a comment, added that at least two people had taken the bar of that state over sixty times each (not "six", but "sixty"). Sixty bar exams, at the very least, must have been taken over 30 years should the sucker-victim attempt both summer and winter. The fee to take the test appears to be $250 a pop.


The main victim of the scam, besides the taxpayer and the economy, which is incredibly harmed by the inefficient allocation of human capital to further unneeded degree-based-indoctrination in a surfeited-until-sick-and-bursting "profession", is the stupent himself. Maybe we cannot stop the snowflakes from falling because we are using reasoning and not an oak-table leg to the head to expose the scam. But one cannot use reason against the unreasonable, anymore than we can use rationality against the irrational. We are speaking human language to animals. Whatever motivates a Matsuzaki to take a bar exam 17 times is instinct and not conscious thought process. What would possess a Goyische foreign national to attend a Yeshiva's law school and spend a decade taking repeated tests, which I presume must be substantially about interpretation and knowledge of New York state code? 


This may be an unusual case, otherwise the New Yorker would not have bothered to report on it (oh-so-cute! Little-bowing-man took exam many time!), but if so, it differs only in degree and not in kind from the rest of the special "noflakes" (as a jobless ice crystal should be called). And if Matsuzaki is extreme, how about the two bufónes who took the exam sixty times each. Even if they finally passed, it would be in their retirement age, and they could enter a profession that is more oversaturated than the "Super Size Me" guy's aorta.

Ridiculous.

20 comments:

  1. (sigh) I want to be "happy" for this guy and his accomplishment, but...

    If there was a good job waiting for this guy on the other side, at least it would be a happy ending and worth all the effort. As it stands, I doubt it, somehow. I'm sure Cardozo encouraged him every step of the way, at least where tuition payments were still due and owing.

    FWIW, it took me three times to pass the bar. Fat lot of good it did me, personally, but one's mileage could vary. I guess.

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  2. It took me three times as well to pass the bar. I agree that job prospects are pretty much non-existent for this individual at this time. There is not much of a market for people who can't pass the bar relatively quickly post-graduation. Too many red flags for firms to hire someone like this. Congratulations to him, but his bar passage is the beginning of his problems, not the end. Can you say solo practice?

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  3. In the age of the Internet and mobile computing, offering the Bar Exam twice a year, in settings/environments that scream "19th Century" (go to fixed place, fixed time and date, take tests from 1970s, etc), you'd think the New Yor Bar was still communicating by Pony Express. Small wonder law is on downward gradient -- they haven't figured out how to maximize efficiencies (or profits) within the "firm" of law practice.

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    1. Yes, but we also have e-mail to transmit the questions on the MBE to your friends in distant states. How do you control that?

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    2. The system seems archaic. American workers are expected to be highly mobile. Yet if you want to move to another state and practice law you have to pass an exam in that state which is only available 2 times per year (4 times for California I think). Is there any powerful, compelling reason why every state needs to have its own bar exam, and why this exam should only be available a couple of times per year?

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    3. Not any more, 12:51. Yes, back in 16th century one needed to be able to adjudicate things in one's local county because London was several days if not weeks away. Hell, I'll even grant people up to the International Shoe timeframe.

      In the 21st century, it's just cartels protecting their territory. There is absolutely no reason not to have a national bar exam (or a "UCC version," for the states-rights people) where one size fits all. You still have to learn all the local rules, statutes, and case law anyway, "state-specific bar" or not. And in a lot of areas, its not like the law is so mind-bendingly different from state to state that a generalized bar exam wouldn't cut it - we're half way there with the MBE as it stands.

      After all, the bar exam merely demonstrates "minimum competency". You could still keep all the CLEs, policy making and disciplinary stuff at the state level.

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  4. Back before law school was a scam there were people like this, and back then the rule was two failures meant you were never going to get into midlaw or biglaw, or were shown the door if you were already there. So does this story really add anything to the scamblog cause?

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  5. Curious, I took the bar over thirty years ago and found it far easier than I expected. Took several more in several other states and passed them all first try. The multi-state was not difficult at all. Have the standards for passing the bar been upped since then? I can't see how it is possible for somebody who could get through law school could not pass the bar after a few tries at the most, not if they put any effort into preparing for the same.

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    1. I passed two bar exams almost thirty years ago. On the second one I had six weeks to study while working full time and yet my score was so high I was invited to become a grader of future bar exams.

      What has changed is that a few dozen new law schools have opened and others have increased enrollments, forcing schools farther down the food chain to take even dumber students than they did before.

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    2. The bar standards have been upped in some states. 20 years ago I took the NY and PA bar exams (passed them both thankfully). At that time, if you got a high enough score on the multi state, you automatically passed the PA bar - they didn't even grade the essays. So I just studied the multi state and NY essays and my multi state was high enough that my PA essays didn't matter. However, since then, PA has made their exam more difficult (not sure exactly when the change took place). Also, that Japanese guy is right about the Javits Center - absolute shit hole. While I was taking a leak at the urinal in the mens room, half the people in there were women because the line at the women's room was so long. That's my only real clear memory of that day.

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  6. Passing the bar and being a lawyer is merely a title. A credential. That's all.

    If getting a title/credential blows your skirt up, go for it. Hopefully, that's all this gentleman wanted. You're fooling yourself if you think that the title, alone, is any type of ticket to employment or any type of work.

    The notion that education is the key to upward mobility is dying hard, but thankfully, it is dying. Education is a business that results in a degree, if successful. It guarantees nothing economically.

    When that has fully sunken in, tuition will come down, as it also will when the demand for a law degree equals that of a degree in Victorian literature.

    Pop goes the JD.

    Work to close your alma mater.

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  7. CarBozo. never forgot that

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  8. I once recall a blowhard law professor who said: "At the end of your three years, the number one student and the last ranked student will be lawyers if they pass the bar exam. No matter how many times it takes you to pass the bar exam, 2 or 12 times, you will still be a lawyer."

    Would you hire a doctor to perform surgery on you if he failed the medical boards 12 times?

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    1. First, a doctor who fails his boards twelve times is still likely a doctor (licensing and board certification are two separate things).

      And second, the guy who failed his boards 12 times is still 1000x more likely to have a profitable career that the guy who fails the bar 12 times.

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    2. Actually, a lot of these licensing exams in medicine have limits. Even the Step 1 exam you take in 2nd year of med school have a 3 test limit. This test is for residency placement and if you fail it even once, you better be prepared to going into a family practitioner residency in "middle of now-where small town"

      If you fail 3 times, you get kicked out of medical school.

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  9. The Angry AccountantSeptember 11, 2013 at 4:45 PM

    I have read that it is quite difficult to become an attorney as the profession is heavily regulated, so may be he could not cut it in Japan and the desperate Cardoza Law School accepted him. Clearly, there is a language difficulty here because it took him 17 times to pass it. Unfortunately, advertising to the world that you had to take the bar exam so many times isn't going to help him.

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    1. The Angry AccountantSeptember 11, 2013 at 7:56 PM

      I want to clarify, that I meant that the legal professionnin Japan is heavily regulated and there are way less law schools than in the U.S.

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    2. There was a guy in my state who was a native English speaker who had to take the bar more than twenty times before he passed. Your point is probably correct as applied to this individual but the serial flunkers are out there.

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  10. "Would you hire a doctor to perform surgery on you if he failed the medical boards 12 times?"

    Probably not. But you are comparing apples to human morality in general.

    The US Legal Profession is a catch by catch can rip off and disgrace and any US Supreme Court Justice that will negligently (extraordinary and outrageously negligently, that is) not speak out by now against the human travesty that the US profession of law has become in terms of the destruction of human lives is a silent partner in a United States moral and inhumane decline that history will wonder at in years to come.

    IMHO the time for talk is over and blogging is ineffective. Campos crapped out and was probably censored and end of story.



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