Survey: Should the Bar Exam Be Abolished?

Survey: Should the Bar Exam Be Abolished?

Bloomberg Law has published its second State of Practice survey, aimed to gain a better understanding of how attorney respondents feel about the current format and process of the bar exam.

In this survey, 382 law firms and in-house attorneys (with an average tenure of 19 years) were asked several questions about their bar exam experience.

According to the survey, Sixty percent of respondents reported “no” when asked whether the bar exam measures lawyer competence — showing that most respondents believe the bar exam does not achieve its stated goals. Sixty percent of respondents also reported that the bar exam had not adequately prepared them for practice, which is troubling given how much time most people spend studying for the exam.

However, even if the majority of respondents claimed that the bar exam isn’t serving its intended purpose, just slightly more than half (51%) of survey participants said the exam should be reevaluated, which is significantly closer to a 50/50 split.

“One possible explanation is that if most respondents took the exam a number of years ago, reforming the test may not be a huge concern to them,” explained Bloomberg Law. “Another could be that because the legal profession—in general—has been regarded as resistant to change, reconsidering the exam altogether may be an alarming concept. Or perhaps the respondents just can’t think of a better option to safeguard the profession and prevent incompetent attorneys from entering the legal field.”

The survey asked the attorneys who said the exam needed to be fixed to name the specific components that needed to be changed. The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), exam fees, and the Multistate Essay Examination were the most popular selections. Among the write-in responses to this question, the most common answers were to abolish the exam completely and to test more practical skills.


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