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Passing the California Bar Exam Doesn't Automatically Make You a Great Lawyer

"For years," the New York Times reports, "California had set the threshold for passing the [bar] exam higher than any other state but Delaware."

California flag and gavel.jpeg

Passing the bar exam doesn't necessarily mean you'll be a great lawyer, but is California's exam unreasonably difficult?

This is the notorious test that all law school graduates must take and pass in order to become duly licensed attorneys and counselors at law. The point of the exam, much like tests and certifications in other disciplines, is to "prove" that you have what it takes to do the job.

What does it really take?

Of course, whether one actually has what it takes to practice law successfully doesn't rest so much on the bar exam as it does on a host of other factors, such as drive, discipline, ethics, good judgment, knowledge and hard-won experience.

Says the dean of Brooklyn Law School:

"Traditional bar exam and licensing practices have outlived their sell-by date and are increasingly hard, if not impossible, to justify as serving the best interests of the profession or the public."

A barrier to entry, of sorts

The bar exam does serve as a kind of barrier to entry, and theoretically at least, it serves as a baseline for those deemed capable of representing other people and solving their legal challenges. Passing the bar exam may be a decent indicator that a would-be lawyer has the requisite legal knowledge and intelligence to practice law - though it is far from the end-all be-all of what it means to become a capable lawyer (other than the fact that you cannot become licensed to practice law until you pass).

CA's highest court asserts its authority

As the New York Times reports, the California Supreme Court has stepped in to change the passing score of the California bar exam, which in this state is currently set at 144. These changes may apply even to those taking the bar exam this month (the bar exam is administered twice yearly, in February and July).

California has long been known as having one of the toughest - if not the toughest - bar exams in the country. If this change happens, law school graduates here may soon find it a little easier to pass the bar exam and embark on their legal careers.

Read more: California Supreme Court Moves to Make Bar Exam Easier to Pass

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