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September 15, 2009


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What it sounds like they're saying is there are a number of fairly accurate predictors for bar passage, such as UGPA and LSAT, and that those whose numbers indicate a low chance of them ever passing the bar should be forewarned of this possibility before attending law school. Which rarely happens.

I would bet all the people in that list went to a high ranked or top 10 law school, i.e., even though they failed they statistically would have had a good chance at passing anyway.

Keep in mind I'm not one of those "you went to a TTT" jackasses. I went to a fourth tier school. But, I think it's true that there are a lot of folks being sold this false dream of becoming a rich lawyer, without being advised of the reality of the situation. I have no qualms giving everyone a shot, and there are some very fine lawyers out there who statistically didn't have a chance, but people should be making an informed decision regardless.


I'll be the first to herald the "intangible benefits" of law school. But it is naive to think that recent college graduates are putting down $100,000 and 3 years of their lives for those intangibles. They see the promise of a large salary and misjudge their ability to repay their debt when the predictable economic downturn comes. There is nothing wrong in correcting these misperception for those most likely to become victims of law-school goggles.

Here's a little quiz. I'm willing to bet that prospective law students (at any school) will not have a realistic idea about their actuarial odds of accomplishing these goals.

1. Graduating law school
2. Graduating near the top of their class, i.e. law review
3. Passing the bar in California/NY (and maybe even in other states)
4. Getting a paying job at all
5. Getting a job at a big law firm, i.e. 160k
6. Having over $150,000 in debt upon graduation
7. Working at a big law firm for over 3 years
8. Paying off their debt in 10 years

In most professions, misleading a majority of potential apprentices about their chances of making it in the field could be called fraud. At many law schools, it is standard practice. I'm not saying that law schools are lying, but their willful silence with full knowledge about actual odds--reinforced annually by collected statistics--is irresponsible at best, especially in this economy.

Specifically on the bar exam, look at the stats the Cal Bar board provides every year. The short story is that students from unaccredited schools and repeat takers (and especially repeat takers from unaccredited schools) do not pass very often. This, in addition to the fact that some lower-ranked schools teach almost-exclusively for the bar exam (limiting the "intangibles" which law school should teach) and cut a large portion of their first year class (or take them off scholarship) depending on their 1st year grades, means that students should look long and hard before deciding to attend.

If you want to go to law school, more power to you. All I suggest is that you go with full information. Anything that will increase knowledge is a good thing, even at the cost of discomfort.


I failed the May 2008 NY Bar (and haven't retaken it). It hasn't ruined my life, but the last year hasn't been easy, either. It took me about a year to readjust. I decided to not retake the bar right away. And now I have a law-related job that pays $75k, which about as much as most grads from my law school (tier 2) make when they're at my stage.

So, was law school worth it? Probably.

Why? First, I was an English major in college (albeit at a top 25 school). So my income would otherwise have been pretty crummy (at 75k, it's now probably double what it otherwise would have been). Second, I didn't graduate with as much debt from law school as many other students. And third, I actually liked law school. It was fascinating and it probably made me a smarter person (though apparently not bright enough to pass the bar; I admit this much).

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I am Japanese.
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Why most of the person want to take a bar exam of NY state?
If there is something wrong with other state,please teach me.

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Aurora Orsini

Failure of any kind of exam doesn't necessarily equate to your failure as a human being. You can always try again. Just maintain the right mindset and keep persevering.

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