Readers React

California's outdated bar admission process

To the editor: I think UC Irvine School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky is absolutely correct that it is time we nationalize the bar admission process. He is also correct that the current system is being used in California and elsewhere as a tool to limit competition. ("It's time for California to accept the Uniform Bar Exam," op-ed, May 11)

When I moved to California in 1994, I had to sit for "only" two of the three days of the California exam because I had been practicing for five years. I stopped complaining, however, when I sat down at the exam and met the person next to me who had more than 20 years of experience, including as general counsel to one of the big TV networks. He had to retake the entire exam because he had moved to the business side at the network and had not "practiced" within the last five years.

In the age of the Internet, law increasingly transcends state and even national borders, so it is time we update the admission process to reflect the realities of our time.

Bennet Kelley, Santa Monica

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To the editor: Chemerinsky's argument for a one-size-fits-all approach to bar exams tries to "indumbnify" California's Bar by complaining that the pass rate is notoriously low.

Well, gee, maybe it's because California is a holdout for high standards. Maybe we don't want to dumb down our ethical standards for lawyers in order to blend in.

I'm glad our standards are high and tough. They're supposed to be. They keep out the riff raff. That's the whole point.

Lincoln Gable Riley, Culver City

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To the editor: Chemerinsky's support for California to adopt the Uniform Bar Exam does not go far enough to make efficient client service and lawyer mobility a reality.

Why not have the law schools adopt and administer the exam as a condition of graduating? The law schools would remove a layer of cost, reduce delay and make preparation for the bar exam part of the curriculum.

Also, this would test the quality of each law school's curriculum by showing how many students pass the exam, encourage law schools to focus on client needs rather than faculty course selection preferences, and advance the goal of a legal education to train competent lawyers to provide legal services at competitive prices so more people can afford such services.

David Laufer, Oxnard

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