Opinion

There are better ways to test new lawyers than having them pass the bar exam

To the editor: Your interesting analysis of the California bar exam stated that there is no evidence that higher scores produce more competent lawyers. But you did not suggest ways that better lawyers might be produced for our legal system — now more critical than ever in maintaining the stability of American governance in the face of the deep partisan divisions that are evident in nearly every issue discussed. (“Ease up on California's bar exam to achieve more diversity among lawyers,” editorial, Oct. 6)

A look at the requirements for qualifying as an attorney in Germany, South Africa and many other countries would give us a clue on how to improve American lawyering. These other countries have a full-fledged apprenticeship system where those who have passed a written examination are then given and rated in supervised practical situations before they are permitted to represent clients.

That is something the new California agency regulating lawyers should actively study.

Godfrey Harris, Los Angeles

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To the editor: As one who never made an acceptable “cut,” I agree with your editorial, a carefully crafted but scathing bill of particulars that outlines the incalculable damage done to California by a very small group of people.

As a repeat test-taker, I agree that this exam is more of a hazing ritual than a test of competence. It is a well-known fact that California’s arbitrarily established “cut score” imposed ever-changing standards and clearly discriminated against thousands of us who would have truly “cut it” in the real world.

Your observation that California’s restrictive exam ensures that the state has fewer attorneys practicing law is spot on. These ever-evolving rules, ostensibly crafted to protect Californians from the access to legal representation they otherwise deserve, speaks volumes about those who have manipulated “cut” scores to benefit a small group of people.

George Callas, Hemet

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To the editor: I don’t see why the standard should be lowered for the state bar exam simply because too few minorities are able to pass.

If the exam is passable by a given percentage of applicants, it would seem that the remaining group that were unable to pass were simply not putting enough effort into it. In other words, study harder.

Robert Andrews, Claremont

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