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Lawyers trash the idea of making California's bar exam easier to pass

Lawyers trash the idea of making California's bar exam easier to pass
UC Berkeley Law School's Boalt Hall in October 2018 (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: The op-ed article by the three law school deans who believe that the California bar exam is too rigorous in its grading should be given the same weight as an association of tavern owners that seeks to reduce the drinking age.

The fact that other states have apparently lowered their requirements to accommodate unprepared students clamoring to enter the profession is not persuasive.

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The California State Bar has a responsibility to the public to maintain its standards for those who would enter the profession.

Chris Allgreen, Woodland Hills

The writer is a lawyer.

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To the editor: I am licensed to practice law in California and the District of Columbia.

I passed the California bar exam the second time I took it. Despite what the law school deans wrote, I did not wear my initial failure as an “albatross” around my neck. It is simply a fact, not an event that forever defines me.

I suggest one idea for further study: elimination of the bar exam except for the professional responsibility section. The rest of the test does not prepare a person to become a lawyer; it is merely an antiquated rite of passage.

Attending law school and participating in all of the programs offered by the school is the first step in the process of becoming a qualified lawyer.

Robert Matthews, San Clemente

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To the editor: I didn’t realize California has a shortage of lawyers, but I understand the authors’ dilemma. New York law schools can boast an 83% pass rate while their California schools are burdened with a 64% rate — that’s not great for marketing.

However, any registration exam that has an 80%-plus pass rate isn’t much of a barrier to entry.

The pass rate for the structural engineer exam is 30% to 40%, so perhaps we should lower that standard as well. That won’t be very reassuring, however, if you find yourself in a tall building or driving over a bridge when the next earthquake hits.

Bruce Bates, Laguna Beach

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To the editor: “Memorizing large amounts of information and regurgitating it over a few days has little predictive power for lawyering competence today.”

So when the “modern” lawyer trying a case hears an improper question, apparently these authors suggest the correct course of action is for the lawyer to take out an iPhone and ask, “Siri, what is the proper objection?”

Theda Snyder, Sherman Oaks

The writer is a lawyer

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