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After Four Years of Work, She’s the Ultimate Quirk in the Law, Bar None

Warning: The following item could be harmful to the psychological health of law school graduates who are burdened by student loans but still cannot pass the California Bar exam.

The item: Suzanne M. Quirk, 31, just learned that she passed the three-day exam given this spring.

She passed on her first try. Without ever attending law school.

In mid-1985, Quirk decided to study law with her husband, Charles E. Quirk, a lawyer who does criminal defense, family matters and personal injury cases.

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California is one of only seven states that still allow people to become lawyers without going to law school.

There are rules, however: The would-be lawyer must study for four years with a lawyer or judge, submit periodic progress reports and take the “baby bar” after one year.

Quirk did these things and a few more, too.

Like working full time in her husband’s Pacific Beach office and also giving birth to their first child, Seamus, now 2 1/2.

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Within a week of giving birth, Quirk was back at work, answering phones and doing research. A playpen was set up in the office.

“It got tough sometimes,” said Quirk. “Seamus would crawl all over me, and tell me to put down my book. But I had to keep studying.”

Quirk got a degree in speech pathology/audiology from San Diego State University in 1980. She and her husband will now be law partners.

How rare is Quirk’s feat? Very rare.

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Even with law school, the bar exam can be a bone crusher. The failure rate often hovers near 50%.

The 1990 breakdown is not yet available, but only 10 of the 12,117 people who passed in 1988 and ’89 had not gone to law school. Of those 10, only 3 were first-timers.

Charles Quirk says that near the end of their fourth year of study, his wife started to argue with him over points of law. Argue and win.

“I knew she was ready,” he said.

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A Trim, a Grin, a Little Chagrin

Name it and claim it.

* Defense attorney James Brosnahan complains bitterly to the judge that saturation news coverage makes it difficult for Richard T. Silberman to get justice.

As proof, Brosnahan recalls going to a barber for a trim and instead getting a lecture on the Silberman case.

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Also, as Brosnahan and Silberman were walking downtown, a sassy transient announced loudly, “Here Comes the Medellin Conspiracy.”

* Political consultant Jack Orr has a modest proposal in this month’s San Diego Mensan, the magazine for the high-IQ set.

He suggests that Mensa start rating political candidates in four categories: Intellectually Qualified, Moderately Intelligent, Intellectually Impaired or Dumber Than Dirt.

* Professor, heal thyself.

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UC San Diego Professor Donald Norman wrote the hardback “The Psychology of Everyday Things,” which discusses why things like VCRs, single-knob shower fixtures and nuclear plants don’t work right.

Norman soon discovered something else that doesn’t work right: his book title. Too academic sounding, maybe.

Now the paperback has been issued with something more salable: “The Design of Everyday Things.”

And Another Thing . . .

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Be careful. 2 Live Columnist at work.

* San Diego’s water conservation committee meets today to discuss low-flush toilets.

It’s called the “brick-in-the-head” plan.

* The Padres lead the league in an important category: most catchers wearing earrings.

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Both Benito Santiago and backup Mark Parent like jewelry on their lobes. (So does outfielder Shawn Abner.)

* Channel 8 runs a public service announcement hectoring people to save water.

Then shows a commercial for Mountain Dew with frolickers using thousands of gallons from high-velocity fire hoses to push an oversize beach ball.

* North County bumper sticker: I’ve Never Felt This Good or Had This Much.

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All this and modesty, too?


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