Spiritual and relationship expert, teacher, counselor, advisor, speaker, and writer James Gray Robinson

Dumbing Down of Lawyers

Apparently, the pass rate of lawyers who sat for the July 2018 bar exam across the country has plummeted, especially in California. It is interesting to see what the “experts” are recommending as a solution. They are saying that it is unfair to make students memorize certain information when the purpose of the test is to determine the ability to analyze and apply that information. I assume they are talking about the Rules of Evidence, the Rules of Civil Procedure and other “Rules”. They propose a “fairer” test that would include a fact situation and then ask students to pick the best cases out of a list of cases to support a position. 

            This logic is the same logic that did away with education in the first place, which is the cause of the plummeting pass rates. “New” math, “core studies” and other progressive educational thinking has simply produced a generation of students who can’t study and basically refuse to be tested. I think it all started when schools did not require students to learn how to spell. After all, computers and word processors have spell check, so students don’t need to learn how to spell. 

            Rather than look at changing the educational system and develop the minds and study habits of students, educators are defaulting to the ideal that “it can’t be our fault or the student’s fault”. The test is too hard and needs to be changed to “fairly” test the skill sets of new lawyers. If they had their way, the Bar exam would be eliminated entirely, and we would go back to “reading for the bar” when lawyers got on the job training and their senior partner would declare them competent for being a lawyer (1800’s). 

            Following this rabbit down the hole, lawyers would be entitled to practice law simply because they graduated from law school. Of course, educators would support this proposition, which would give them the power to justify their failed educational curriculum and the enormous fees to attend law school.

            Perhaps we could have two kinds of lawyers like the English legal system, barristers and solicitors. One would be licensed to go into court, the other would deal with the clients. The ones that deal with clients would not need to pass an exam, they would just have to feel good about themselves. This is the end result of lack of critical thinking and discipline to memorize the rules which define legal thinking. It is the tail wagging the dog. If students can’t pass a test, obviously the test must be too hard. I fear the future of the bar.

            I cannot help but feel like the same people who came up with participation trophies are at it again. After all, we shouldn’t be traumatizing the poor students who tried so hard and graduated law school only to be fed to the grist mill of bar exams. Rather than looking at improving law school curriculums and how the law is taught, educators would rather change the bar exam. 

            Personally, I felt that law school was much tougher than the bar exam. I must admit that I studied my ass off, taking a bar review course and studying ever day between graduating from law school and the bar exam. I took passing the bar exam seriously. I believe that the higher fail rate has more to do with lack of discipline and study than a failure of the bar exam to properly test legal skills. But that is just me. I bet if the Federal government paid off student debt if you pass the bar exam, then the pass rates would soar.

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