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Abolish the Bar Exam

Abolish the Bar Exam

The recent story in the WSJ that Kathleen Sullivan (law, Stanford) failed the Bar Exam raises anew whether the exam ought to be abolished. Before discussing this issue, I must note that I found the story to be a bit sensationalistic for the WSJ, as its main purpose seemed to be to mock Kathleen Sullivan. I was interviewed by the reporter of the story a few days ago because of my blog posts earlier this year (herehere, and here) arguing that Bar Exam should be abolished.

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Why I Believe the Bar Exam Should be Abolished

Abolish the Bar Exam

Despite my enjoyment of the Bar Exam as a work of jurisprudence, I believe that the Bar Exam should be abolished.  It prevents mobility among lawyers, making it cumbersome and time consuming to move to different states.  It does not test on actual law used in legal practice, but on esoteric legal rules, many of which are obsolete, and most of which are of absolutely no value to a practicing attorney or to anyone for that matter.  In short, the Bar Exam is an unproductive waste of time.

My guess is most all lawyers would agree. So why does the Bar Exam persist?

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The Multistate Bar Exam as a Theory of Law

Bar Exam

What is the most widely read work of jurisprudence by those in the legal system?  Is it H.L.A. Hart’s The Concept of Law?  Ronald Dworkin’s Law’s Empire?  No . . . it’s actually the Multistate Bar Exam.

Almost all lawyers have read it.  Although the precise text is different every year, the Bar exam presents a jurisprudence that transcends the specific language of its text.  Each year, thousands of lawyers-to-be ponder over it, learning its profound teachings on the meaning of the law.  It therefore comes as a great surprise that the Bar exam has received such scant scholarly attention.

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