The National Jurist - Spring 2017 - 27
"The bar exam is truly about testing legal
knowledge, plus legal performance. No
matter how much you know, you simply
have to have a strategy for how you will
show the bar examiners exactly what
they're looking for. And the best strategy
is to practice, practice, practice."
-Keila Molina, Arizona
(passed in California 2013 and in Arizona 2015)
In California, which has not adopted the Uniform Bar
Exam used in 25 states and the District of Columbia, passage rates plummeted to 62 percent in 2016 after years of
holding at 75 percent or above.
So, what's the problem? Some legal experts point to
lower LSAT scores, an influx of ill-prepared students and
a decline in the number of law school enrollees. Others
cite outdated testing methods, changes in Multistate
Bar Exam (MBE) study materials and an overwhelming
amount of information students are required to memorize.
More law schools are incorporating bar preparation
into their curricula, focusing on things such as legal writing and test-taking skills during the first year. And some
schools offer summer bar review programs. But most
students still shell out hundreds, even thousands of dollars
for intense preparation programs in the weeks leading up
to the exam.
Of course, there are a variety of approaches used by bar
review companies hoping to help law graduates pass the
exam that could make or break their careers.
"I firmly believe the methodologies of the leading [bar
prep] companies do not put students in a position to pass
the bar exam," said Mehran Ebadolahi, CEO of TestMax
in Venice Beach, Calif. Like most bar review companies,
his relies on online instruction.
"It's not the student," he said. "There is something
wrong with how they are being taught. I think that comes
from the kitchen sink approach, made-up questions, and
perfect and model answers."
Dominique Williams, 26, who earned her degree from
Thomas Jefferson School of Law, admits she has never
been a good test taker. So, when she failed the Multistate
Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE), she
began doubting whether she could pass the California bar.
"I always got good grades [in high school] and I
did everything else great," she said. "I was one of those
straight-A students where, if I got an A minus, it would
The NaTioNal JurisT