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.