Readers React

More law school grads fail bar exam, and it may not be their fault

To the editor: The reasons for the drastic drop in pass rates will never be made clear without more information on how the test is scored being disclosed by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). ("Fewer law school graduates pass bar exam in California," Dec. 8)

Starting in July 2014, for the first time ever, raw scores are no longer disclosed to examinees. I called the California State Bar then the NCBE to ask why. No one had an answer. This is important because raw scores are used to scale the test, which in turn determines who passes.

Law School Admission Test scores for the July 2014 test takers were the same as those who took the July 2013 test. This and other relevant data reviewed by several law schools demanding explanations for these historically low scores do not support a less able pool of examinees graduating nationwide. It seems to be a problem with the test, not its takers.

But we will never know without meaningful cooperation from the NCBE. As this situation makes clear, we should no longer rely on the word of a self-regulating organization that holds the level of power that the NCBE does.

Jennnie Welsh, Santa Barbara

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To the editor: I would suggest that the underlying reason fewer people are passing the bar exam is because fewer people want to become lawyers.

When I began in 1967, the practice of law was an honorable profession and cases were determined by addressing factual and legal issues in court. Today, however, the lawyer who attacks the other lawyer by the use of "dirty tricks" reminiscent of Richard Nixon is likely to be the one who prevails.

In civil litigation, for example, you have to keep the dates you plan to be on vacation secret to prevent the opposing lawyer from ruining your vacation by scheduling a deposition of your client during the time you'll be out of town. This isn't "addressing the legal issues." And it isn't why anyone would want to go to law school.

I am sorry to be so negative, but no one within my profession seems willing to do anything about this.

Arthur H. Weed, Santa Barbara

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