NY Bar Exam Sells Out

When life gives you lemons, consider planting an orange tree. You don’t have to use the lemons if they don’t suit your needs. I point this out because the New York State Bar Association last week tweeted a message from the state’s chief judge saying, “Given current conditions in New York — including public health concerns, social distancing guidelines, and crowd density restrictions — it is clear that seating capacity for the September bar examination will be limited.”


Before we examine this statement, let’s think about all the law students who’ve spent the past three or four years studying, and if you’re like me, carefully avoiding being called on in class, only to be told that the bar exam is sold out. What are they supposed to do?

I see some class actions in the future for the New York Bar if this isn’t worked out.

In the meantime, I suggest that students without New York bar exam seats consider moving to other states or booking early for the next New York exam. Maybe one of those Broadway discount ticket agencies can handle this.

In the meantime, I’m sure there will be lots of law firms willing to take on law grads as low-paid clerks.

But perhaps I’m overreacting to the announcement. Just because there isn’t enough seating doesn’t mean applicants can’t take the exam standing up. Maybe the chief judge was telling us there will be SRO for the test.

If not, I still don’t see why this is a problem. One of the few upsides of the Covid-19 crisis is that there are venues available. Have you ever heard of something called Yankee Stadium? It’s not being used and there’s lot of space for social distancing.

Not only would this solve the Bar’s problem, but it will put hot dog and beer vendors back to work. Ushers could monitor the exam. We get more lawyers and the economy gets a boost.

What do you think scalpers will be able to get for bar exam tickets?

Electioneering. Those of you who think politics can’t get any weirder need to take a look at a recent Appellate Court of Illinois ruling over whether a candidate should appear on a primary election ballot.

Let me begin by pointing out that this is litigation — real-life litigation involving lawyers and an appeals court — over someone running in a partisan election for the office of Du Page Forest Preserve Commissioner.

I have no idea why someone would fight over this particular office. My best guess is that all the candidates really need a job.

I next wish to note that the ruling begins with this phrase: “Petitioner, Natalie Rose Shannon-DiCianni.” You may think that’s innocuous but it turns out that this petitioner got kicked off the ballot because someone objected that Natalie Rose Shannon-DiCianni was not the candidate’s real name.

What was the problem with the name? The hyphen.

The Du Page County Officers Electoral Board ruled that the hyphen made it seem that the candidate had a double surname when, in fact, Shannon was her nickname and not part of her last name. Voters needed to be protected by making sure they knew who they were voting for.

Imagine for a moment voters knowing anything about forest commissioner candidates, whether their names were accurate or not.

Your next question of course is why would the candidate throw in the hyphen. I don’t know, but the objector had an interesting theory: “(T)he objector accuses petitioner of attempting to mislead voters and ‘gain an unfair advantage by combining an Irish-sounding name with her legal Italian-sounding surname.’”

If you lock down the Irish and Italian vote, you win the forest.

New feature. Sports sections and sports networks have taken to re-reporting and replaying old “on this day” events because there isn’t that much new to take up space and time slots. That’s not a problem in the litigation reporting world, but I thought looking back might be fun anyway.

So I’m going to look back at the good old days every now and then during the pandemic.

Five years ago I reported this: “Something called the Legal Executive Institute last week published an article called “Making Your Law Firm a Great Place to Work” in which we’re told that law firms being great places to work ‘is a trend that will only accelerate.’”

Believe it or not, your law firm wasn’t always a great place to work.

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