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When Passing the Bar Is National News

As if taking the bar exam is not stressful enough, imagine sitting through it with a national audience looking over your shoulder. That, of course, was the situation for former Stanford Law School Dean Kathleen Sullivan, who made national news last year when she failed the California bar exam and who again made the news this week when she passed the exam. All this made Sullivan, now a lawyer in private practice, the talk of the law blogs and even non-law blogs.

But what does it tell us when a renowned constitutional law scholar fails to pass the bar? In an op-ed this week in The San Francisco Chronicle, Hans Allhoff asks that question as he graduates from Stanford Law and faces his own run through the bar exam gauntlet. Does Sullivan's case, he asks, tell us something about her capabilities as a lawyer or about the pointlessness of the bar exam?

"If she failed it, and if most lawyers practicing in California would fail it too, then it's hard to see how it proves anything more than one's ability to study for and pass a test."

The legal system prides itself on reasonableness, Allhoff says. If this is so, he urges, "Let's not excuse the State Bar itself from this utmost of obligations."

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on May 25, 2006 at 03:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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