Saturday, May 31, 2008

An unhappy bar review course customer
Tom Smith

What we have here is an unhappy bar review course buyer. 

Recent law school grads prepping for the bar certainly do present a juicy target for vendors.  It's a classic case of the buyers knowing they need something, but not knowing exactly what it is.

I reviewed for the bar in the worst way possible, by not doing so.  I had been out of law school for a couple of years when I took it, and was working full time in DC as an RR policy wonk.  I really did not feel like studying for it.  I put it off to the last weekend before the test, then watched a Bonanza TV marathon for most of the time alotted instead.  I think I had some issues I was working out.  While there is a lot of ethics in Bonanza, there is not a lot of law.   Fortunately, it was the Pennsylvania bar, a notably easy one, so I passed, but it was a very unpleasant experience having to reconstruct Anglo-American law from first principles before each multi-state question. The people who say study hard for the bar are right, especially if you are in California or New York.

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Tom Smith


As someone who will take the CA bar exam next summer, I am rather unnerved to once again find myself feeling like I did during my first year of lawschool -- oblivious, scared, and willing to shell out big dollars just to feel slightly, if at all, more confident.

Posted by: Jobless_Jacob | May 31, 2008 4:14:06 PM

Hilarious. I love the picture of the same guy who spent the weekend watching reruns of some silly television reconstructing the results of debates over common law that took centuries to work out casually over a few minutes of reflection later that week.

Posted by: Michael F. Martin | May 31, 2008 4:55:14 PM

This reminds me of my experience.

I graduated from a Mass law school in 82, and signed up for the NY Bar and also the Mass bar as a "safe" bar, in case I failed NY. Mass, at the time, was notorious for essays (which are much easier than some rather pointed NY questions).

I did not study for Mass until the night before, when I was flying up to Boston, having just spent two days taking the NY portion and the multistate. One of the Mass questions dealt with an obvious common law marriage scenario. So, I discussed the pros and cons.

After the test, someone told me that the answer to the question was a little shorter. The answer was just "no," since Mass had abolished common law marriage.

Fortunately, I passed both bars.

Posted by: John Smith | May 31, 2008 8:00:34 PM

Professor Smith,

It was this sort of insight that made your contracts and corporations classes worth it. That and the patriotic puppy.

Posted by: unhhyphenatedconservative | May 31, 2008 9:55:10 PM

I reviewed for the bar exam by reading Louis Auchincloss stories, and, God being more merciful than just, was rewarded when the plot of one of the stories was one of the bar exam questions. There must have been a court case which inspired both Auchincloss and the bar examiners.

Posted by: y81 | Jun 2, 2008 6:29:27 PM

"While there is a lot of ethics in Bonanza, there is not a lot of law. "

Don't be hating! Sheriff Coffee only had one deputy with which to cover an entire county. The Cartrights would jump in before Roy ever got a chance to strut his stuff.

Besides, there were plenty of legal issues in Bonanza. E.g., Ben was careful to not only seek out the old land grant holders when securing title to the Ponderosa, but went the extra step of reaching an agreement with the local Indian tribes. Belt and suspenders, man, belt and suspenders. Or there was the time that Charles Dickens came to town on his speaking tour and found out that everybody knew his works from pirated editions for which he received no royalties.

I think you really mean that the bar exam doesn't feature a lot of legal issues that can be resolved with a gun. That is a flaw with the exam, not Bonanza.

Posted by: enemyofthepeople | Jun 3, 2008 4:31:31 PM

That was an honest comment! Can anyone give me any links to lists of bar review providers or reviews of bar review providers? I am trying to put together a comprehensive list. Thanks, just go to my website to post.

Posted by: Veena Lothe | Jun 5, 2008 7:23:15 AM

Everyone speaks about the difficulty of Bar exams, but very little is spoken about who grades the Bar exam essays which represent a significant portion of the grading, which for some people can mean the difference between passing and not passing. I would like to know specifically who the graders of the Pa. Bar exam essays are, and whether or not the answer to this question is held under a veil of secrecy. And if the identities of the graders are secret, why do lawyers accept this. In light of the American educational system, I know of no other standardized testing system, where one is not entitled to know.

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