Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Breaking News: New York Suddenly Decides to Make the Bar Exam Easier

Today, Chief Judge Lippman, the dictator of the bar admission process in New York, decided to adopt a much easier bar exam.  This is the same Lippman who recently required all new attorneys to work for 50-hours for free to gain admission to the state bar (perhaps recognizing that attorneys today should get used to doing work for no pay).  During the pro bono fiasco, Lippman blithely swept away the complaints of actual practicing attorneys in the bar associations, and he seems poised to start extorting the rest of us New York attorneys into working for free by posting our pro bono hours online each year (so far, the bar has fought those efforts...Lippman's 70th birthday, the age of mandatory retirement, cannot come fast enough).

Lippman's edict to adopt an easier test called the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) comes within weeks of New York's February bar exam results, which showed some of the worst pass rates for first-time test-takers ever.  Only 43% of first-time test-takers passed the February exam, which usually has a lower pass rate than July's exam...but not that much lower.

After those miserable results, Scamdean Nick Allard of Brooklyn Law School attacked those who administered the Multistate Bar Exam and the New York Bar Exam, claiming that the test-makers wrote overly difficult questions and graded unfairly.  He did not complain about this alleged problem in previous years, when passage rates were higher.

The obvious answer to this crisis in bar passage is infuriatingly absent from the attempts at misdirection by scamdeans and, um, scamchiefjudges.  Obviously, far fewer students passed the most recent bar exams because this group of test-takers came from the first graduating classes of less-qualified students.


Ever since us scambloggers and our compatriots have helped to spread the word about the law school scam, fewer people with high LSAT scores have applied to law school, and even fewer have attended.  Even fewer have attended any law school outside of the top tier.  So most of the second, third, and fourth tier law schools must draw from both a smaller and a dumber pool of students.  On top of it all, most of those law schools have kept entering class sizes roughly the same instead of simply admitting fewer students.

Is anyone that surprised when people, who scored between the 10-40th percentile on the LSAT, fail the bar exam?  Apparently...

Scamdean Nick Allard and Judge Lippman both seem to think that we should blame either incompetent test-makers or the anachronistic tests themselves.  After all, those tests are meaningless anyway, right?

Well, I didn't think so.  Since law school now teaches to the MBE -- i.e. mostly federal law or "majority rule" common law -- the New York section of the bar exam taught me a lot of the quirks of our often quirky state law.  I found it helpful to understand some of the basic policy differences with our civil procedure, torts, and criminal law -- even though I only now practice criminal law.  It helps me to have a well-rounded understanding of how to apply my state's law in a variety of circumstances related to my practice area (as criminal cases often have attached tort cases and, therefore, civil practice issues).

Also -- let's be honest -- the bar exam was supposed to provide some basic measuring stick for whether a person could prepare ahead of time for the test, retain general information, apply the information to specific facts, and to communicate that information quickly in written form.  The bar exam measured "lawyering" skills much better than the LSAT, in my opinion, even though the LSAT has a much greater affect on one's career by determining which law school one is admitted to.

By removing the entire state law section and replacing it with easier essays based on common law learned in law school (the UBE exam), Lippman obviously wants to try to boost the pass rates.  Oh, and he wants to make it easier for people from other UBE states to be able to be admitted to New York (just what the over-saturated NY market needs).

The attempt to make the bar exam easier is just one step in the overall process to try to dumb down the legal profession for the mouth-breathers still applying to overpriced law schools -- which is most of them at this point.  The elimination of the LSAT is already on the horizon -- some law schools already allow the substitution of another standardized test.

No wonder Lippman made this change behind closed doors without the input of anyone and without fanfare until it was announced.  Oh, and he did it just days after the New York Times ran a hit-piece on traditional bar exams.  Nicely done.  It is hard not to see a coordinated effort by the well-connected legal-academic-cognoscenti who benefit from the law school scam.

I hope that Lippman's foolishly uninformed choice results in some pushback by the state bar associations.  But, unfortunately, it seems that Lippman can do whatever he wants by fiat in New York when it comes to dictating bar admission standards, or the lack of standards.  Perhaps it's time for New York to put the actual bar association in charge of admission standards instead of an arbitrary judge who is old and beyond out of touch.

17 comments:

  1. I wonder if LIppman has "lectured" at any law schools recently. I wonder if he received any money for doing so. I wonder if that would constitute a bribe. I wonder if Lippman should be convicted at a closed trial with no counsel present. I wonder whether Lippman would enjoy a five-year vacation in a penal institution.

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    1. From 2011, on the increasingly unspeakable truth behind this dumbing down:

      "Bar passage, it turns out, correlates pretty closely with LSAT scores – not surprisingly, as they’re both big tests with a lot of multiple-choice questions – and affirmative action students, by definition, tend to have lower LSAT scores. My prediction is that the ultimate result will be intense pressure from law schools for the dumbing-down of bar exams."

      See "Bar Exams (Reality) Vs Diversity" By James Fulford

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  2. Adam, it looks like you were able to pass the New York bar exam and learn something while doing do. Congratulations to you for being an educated and qualified lawyer.

    I find it so inexpressibly sordid that Allard and Lippman want to flood the New York market with ignorant and uneducated people posing as lawyers. That would permanently change the nature of legal practice and irreversibly undermine the rule of law in America.

    Judging from the way Lippman changed the bar exam without even a hint of due process, he's a megalomaniac who's actively hostile to legal precedent and procedure. He obviously never deserved his present position. I'm convinced he was placed there by special interests whose primary concern is profits per partner, and justice be damned.

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  3. That's right: it's just another manifestation of dumbing down. After all, every ass-eyed fuck from Touro or New York Law Skule just has to be admitted to the bar.

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    1. Don't forget Brooklyn Law School, which is admitting huge numbers of students in the middle of an ongoing legal employment crisis. I think there are some unusually unscrupulous law firms in New York that like it that way, and I think Lippman is actively trying to drive down wages in their favor.

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  4. Don't get me started on the stupid 50 pro bono hours. I have to do them at some point this summer, on top of studying for the bar. Nearly everyone else at my crummy school got them done by doing unpaid internships or being involved in a clinic. Shame on me, though, I don't qualify because I insisted on doing work that actually paid me. Very bourgeois of me I know.

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    1. I wonder if you could get pro bono credit for appealing the pro bono rule? Or for challenging Lippman's fitness for judicial office? Or for filing ethics complaints against the few scam advocates who are actually licensed attorneys?

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  5. Mr. Lippman actually turns 70 this month, on May 19. No doubt he'll appeal the mandatory retirement rule to himself and decide, in a closed hearing with no witnesses, that the public interest demands that he continue in office.

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    1. And, 100 years from now, Lippman's brain-in-a-jar-attached-to-a-cyborg-body will have led his robot army to world domination.

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  6. You could of course impose a higher UBE score requirement for New York admission - or, and imagine the shrieks of outrage from the Deans - a curve so that pass rates don't soar.

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    1. Curves that grade downward for conditional scholarship revocation? - OK!

      Curves that grade downward for the bar pass rate? - Not OK!

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  7. Silver was arrested last month on corruption charges, and Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara warned the public to “stay tuned” for more developments.
    The case against Silver centers on his freelance legal “work” and the millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks he hauled in from real-estate and asbestos claims, the feds say.
    Many of these cases landed in the courtrooms at 60 Centre St., presided over by judges with ties to Silver and his lifelong pal, Jonathan Lippman, the chief judge of the state Court of Appeals.

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  8. A quick comment.

    Back when I was taking the bar, way back, when I was thin, decades ago - New York was considered the toughest bar and hence the prestigious one to pass. There is still a certain cachét associated with New York. By contrast, the Pennsylvania bar was a joke, known as a safety bar. You could take the PA bar exam a day after you completed the multistage and New York and the more trepidatious of my peers rushed from Albany or Manhattan to PA and Connecticut to take such a safety bar. Indeed it was said that being able to sign your name on the bar exam was all it took to pass the PA state component if you did OK on the multistate. While PA's bar examiners objected to the description of its bar exam as a joke, they did not raise the threshold for years, being content to moan but keep cashing the checks to take the exam.

    But this raises a question - should New York try to keep its "toughest bar" status (along with CA and Fla.) It could do so by setting a higher score on the UBE. Of course if it did, since UBE scores are transparent, it again would be - "the dumb law students take the [insert state] bar" and safety bar story. Those states would then feel obliged to raise their passing score to match New Yorks and before you knew it all the UBE states could have a very tough bar exam.

    So consider the possibility that an effort to dumb down the New York bar - if there was a response from existing lawyers demanding that NY have a higher UBE and MBE passing score requirement, could prove counter productive for deans of the weaker law schools.

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  9. I think folks need to clam down a little. Three corrections from some of the hyperbole above:

    (1) Lippman did not do this unilaterally and without any process. The change has been the subject of public comments and public hearings taking place over more than six months. I don't like Lippman's decision, personally, but it is certainly not one with no process or transparency.

    (2) Don't be so hasty to attack the lower tier NYC school deans as supporting the change so that more of their classes will pass. Touro's dean, for example, was one of the most vocal OPPONENTS of adopting the UBE. I think many law deans of not particularly good NYC law schools were against the change because it would mean significantly increased competition for their graduates (jobs) and for their own schools (admissions). It seems entirely possible to me that Lippman is playing a long game here and hoping that UBE adoption will finally force some of the glut of NYC law schools to close up shop.

    (3) The "More to Come" from the USA's office was probably a reference to the fact that the NY State Senate Majority Leader, Dean Skelos, and his son were arrested this week.

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    1. 1) Lippman changed it unilaterally despite the opposition of bar associations with elected officers. Just because he opened the decision up from "comments" does not change the unilateral process. (Besides, I keep up with this stuff and I never heard of any real attempt to solicit opinions.) Also, it was the Times that reported on Lippman's decision coming after a closed door meeting with no transparency.

      2) The evidence over the years suggests that Lippman is cozy with the law school industrial complex. I have written on this topic before on this blog. And the Touro dean probably does not want to revamp the third year curriculum which, as I understand it, is essentially a year long barbri course, a strategy that many T4s have pursued in recent years.

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  10. "Obviously, far fewer students passed the most recent bar exams because this group of test-takers came from the first graduating classes of less-qualified students."

    Wow. You became a licensed attorney? Your powers of deduction (based on mere conjecture) are borderline superhuman--I'm impressed! Please offer some stock tips, too...

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