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Bar Study

Bar study is a unique hazing ritual in U.S. attorney-culture. I have come to understand that it is a perpetuation of capitalist schemes between state bar associations and bar study services. We pay to become applicants. In becoming applicants, 99% of us (a rough guesstimate) pay for bar preparation study services. Am I whining? Probably a little bit. But I am also disheartened by the bar-exam process.

For my entire law school career, I have learned to think like an attorney. Exam essays mean analyzing both sides and writing concise rules. This is certainly expected on the bar, but the rules are canned with canned analysis and conclusions. This is learning to take an exam, not testing or training my legal skills.

You’d think that with canned phrasing, my analytic mind would be hollering at the break of pace. No, my friend. Memorizing is such an easy task, and law students and lawyers alike clamor for “brightline” rules, but not when memorization includes eight weeks of material, much of which I will never use, ever. I am also “applying” the memorized rules and conclusions to cases that are so frivolous or absurd, that they would never make it to court. Regardless, this is what we base the license to practice as an attorney in a court of law.

This is one reason that I am so disheartened. I had this idea that there is some purpose to bar study besides passing the test . The purpose is that there are jurisdictional differences of law that one must learn to be licensed to practice in the jurisdiction. I have learned incredibly little about my chosen jurisdiction’s particular laws. Apparently, there are a few differences for admissible evidence, and some state-specific civil and criminal procedures, but most of my exam will be multi-state issues, not specific to Oregon. Learning to the test makes me feel like I am in public high school exam, with the no-child-left behind laws applying in force. Learn to the test! That’s all you need! Don’t think or analyze or grow! Anyone can and should be able to do this! Belittling while nerve-wracking, gee-whizz….

I should be happy, because graduated law school students want a uniform bar examination that will allow us to work in multiple jurisdictions. And I would be happy about that, but taking multi-state examinations for the Oregon exam, does not license me anywhere but in Oregon. Therefore, there is still no purpose to the multi-state exam portions any more than there is to the few state-specific exam issues. Jaded? Yes, and I still have four weeks to go before hazing.

Here’s hoping I start memorizing these bar tricks that I have paid thousands of dollars for.


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