Your Bar Exam Is Very Important to Us …

     Maybe I’m cynical.
     No, I take that back. I’m definitely cynical.
     Some things just strike me as hilarious the second I lay eyes on them.
     Take this opening blurb on the front page of the August California Bar Journal: “After years of discussion, the State Bar took a big step last month toward cutting the length of the bar exam to save money and improve efficiency.”
     It took YEARS of discussion to decide that a two-day exam was just as good as a three-day exam?
     There were people sitting around talking about this for years?
     OK, I know they weren’t spending every waking hour on this topic – at least I hope not, for their sake. There must have been some lunch breaks or something.
     And I guess you have to admire this kind of in-depth exploration of a vital issue.
     So how many years could this have been? Two? Maybe three?
     The Journal article doesn’t say. You have to check out the report from the Committee of Bar Examiners to get an inkling: “In preparation for development of a proposal for consideration by the Committee, in October 2011, a meeting was held with three psychometricians to discuss the format of the California Bar Examination and to explore the feasibility of possible changes.”
     Picture me cackling again.
     At least this is explanatory.
     They had to prepare before they could propose something that would be considered. Some of us might have jumped right to consideration, but these people take it one itty-bitty step at a time, whether they need to or not.
     Of course, this is easy for me to say. I wasn’t there. The issue may be far more complex than I can comprehend. After all, they had to bring in three psychometricians. Not just one, but three.
     There was even “a report from its primary psychometrician on whether the psychometricians’ proposition was correct.”
     My first assumption was that the pyschometricians were meretricious pychos who had been driven crazy by studying the bar exam.
     But no, it turns out that pyschometricians are people who come up with tests and evaluate results.
     So here’s what I’m wondering: Is it possible that these three psychos – May I call them that? – were sent into a quiet room to test the bar committee? Imagine someone – perhaps a mischievous state Supreme Court justice – wondering how efficiently a State Bar committee could solve a simple problem?
     The results are in.
     In case you’re wondering, there is a list of pros and cons in the report regarding this test-shortening. Some of them are curious.
     For example, a pro is: “The examination would become more gender neutral.”
     So a shorter exam is less sexist. There is no explanation for this.
     It strikes me that it’s sexist to think that a longer exam is tougher on one of the sexes. I don’t know which one.
     My favorite pro is this one: “There exists the possibility that because there are fewer components, the time it takes for grading could be reduced.”
     But it’s just a possibility. Probably won’t happen.
     One of the cons is: “There is a perception that the examination would be easier.”
     A perception?
     Why would you not think a two-day exam is easier than a three-day exam?
     And why is that a con? Do we want prospective lawyers to be as terrified as possible before taking the test? Is it a test of fearlessness?
     Apparently not. According to the report: “There seems to be continued confusion with regard to what the bar examination is intended to do. The examination is not designed to predict success as a lawyer or even that a lawyer is ready for the practice of law.”
     So, what’s it for?
     I couldn’t figure that out from the report. All it said – and you can read this for yourself – is that the exam “is one step of the continuum … throughout an attorney’s lifetime.”
     It’s the Circle of Life.
     By the way, you can relax. It will be at least two more years before the change is put into effect. Lots more time to discuss it.

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