Opinion

How badly does California need more lawyers? Not enough to make the bar exam easier.

To the editor: David L. Faigman, dean of UC Hastings College of the Law, bemoans the high “cut score” resulting in what he asserts is a pass rate on the California bar exam that is “too low.” He notes with some chagrin that 1,789 people could’ve become lawyers had they only attempted to do so in New York instead of California. (“The California bar exam flunks too many law school graduates,” Opinion, March 21)

As my grandmother would’ve said, “You call this a problem?”

In this era of partisan rancor, I’d be willing to bet that an overwhelming majority of Californians would agree on one thing: The last thing our state needs is more lawyers.

Michael H. Leb, Pasadena

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To the editor: California’s low pass rate on the bar exam pales in comparison to a true outrage: the cost to attend a state-sponsored law school.

Acknowledging graduation debt “well above $100,000,” how does Faigman expect new admits to work their way out of debt as a legal aid lawyer, in consumer or public interest law or anywhere but at giant corporate firms? Where is his moral outrage, or does he not want to criticize his school’s questionable annual tuition of about $50,000?

I know I probably would have foregone being an attorney to avoid such crushing debt instead of serving as a prosecutor, then representing indigent criminal clients and regular people.

A.J. Faigin, Laguna Niguel

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To the editor: Faigman’s piece fails only in describing the bar exam’s victims as “young people.”

When I was a 54-year-old first-year student in 2007, my classmates at our American Bar Assn.-approved school’s four-year night program were mostly employed, with many juggling midlife responsibilities. Our class of 2011 had a dismal bar pass rate of 35%.

Our dean chalked up this majority failure to a class of “bad test-takers.”

In addition to reviewing the “tradition” of the California bar exam, law schools would do well to examine the proficiency of their instructors.

Bruce Breslau, Chatsworth

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