Continuing uncertainty swirls around California bar exam

Continuing uncertainty swirls around California bar exam

On Behalf of | Sep 25, 2020 | Ethics & Professional Responsibility

Imagine amassing a score of 1435 on a notoriously difficult professional examination mandating a minimum passage mark of 1440.

The disappointment would be obvious and intense, right?

But then imagine this: What if regulators decided just months later that the next slated exam would have a threshold cutoff for success of 1390 points? Everyone hitting that mark would secure licensing credentials.

But you – a test taker that secured higher results than many thousands of those individuals – would still be deemed a failure.

Do you think you might be piqued and motivated to take some form of action?

Join the crowd. Individuals for whom that hypothetical is actually a stark reality are now aligning across California to protest the state Supreme Court’s recent decision to change the standard for the rigorous bar exam administered twice yearly.

Their chief complaint is understandably this: It is patently unfair that they should be held to a higher passage standard than one that will now affect test takers prospectively.

The state’s highest court just recently weighed in on the possibility of applying the newly lowered minimum score retroactively. The tribunal declined to do so.

That decision unsurprisingly spawned an uproar among recently failed candidates whose scores would now bring exam success. They question why arguably less qualified individuals should obtain a license to practice law in California when they are precluded from doing so. They point to the imposition of an arbitrary and illogical double standard.

And thus they are pushing the Supreme Court to reconsider the matter and, in their collective view, issue a fundamentally fair ruling grounded in retroactive application.

So far, notes one national legal publication, “the court has not responded.”