Professor Daniel J. Solove
Associate professor of law at the George Washington University Law School.
Despite my enjoyment of the Bar Exam as a work of jurisprudence, I believe that the Bar Exam should be abolished. It prevents mobility among lawyers, making it cumbersome and time consuming to move to different states. It does not test on actual law used in legal practice, but on esoteric legal rules, many of which are obsolete, and most of which are of absolutely no value to a practicing attorney or to anyone for that matter. In short, the Bar Exam is an unproductive waste of time.
My guess is most all lawyers would agree. So why does the Bar Exam persist?
Perhaps as a way for states to restrain competition among lawyers . . . but this would be an impermissible purpose. Perhaps inertia. Perhaps because of the “we suffered, now you must suffer too” mentality. I can’t think of good reasons for retaining the Bar Exam. Yet this misery-creating, time-wasting ritual survives -- even thrives -- despite the fact that it has no valid justification and has achieved near universal enmity.
In lieu of the Bar, states should permit all students who graduate from an accredited law school to become members of the Bar after working a certain amount of supervised pro bono hours. All the time spent studying for testing could be used for pro bono work, which would provide a benefit to the community and practical training for future lawyers. I think that this is much better than wasting most of a summer studying for a meaningless test.
Comments * The best thing would be to abolish the stupid bar exam entirely, and require practitioners to gain their professional reputation through actual competence and knowledge, rather than through a test which is designed to preserve the cartel, rather than to protect the public. The idea that the result would be incompetent lawyers ruining people's lives lacks evidence and flies in the face of experience.