The Wall Street Journal airs Elizabeth Wurtzel's attack on the bar exam:
The common denominator among the bar-failers in my class at Yale Law School—and there were a few—was a complete inability to comply with senseless rules; they weren’t the best students, but they were the tartest and the sharpest people—and the least likely to accept the constraints of Big Law that make neither financial nor intellectual sense: the fifty-state survey to prove a negative, the memo to nowhere, the repetitive brief that says nothing and gets read by no one. The inefficiency of law and litigation in practice begin with the complete waste of effort that is its licensing ritual.
"Are there other, better ways," the Journal asks, "to control the quality and quantity of lawyers in society? Does the bar exam reward the wrong skills and abilities?"
There is a good reason why some Yale Law School graduates fail the bar. They do not learn enough law in law school to carry them through the tedium of the bar examination. It is a real black mark against my alma mater (class of 1968) that so many of its students do not take enough core courses to know law. It is also a mistake to think of the law as a set of senseless rules. The students who fail the bar can't work with any set of rules. There are virtually no students at the top of the class who don't pass the bar. Indeed the insistence that intelligent students can deal with rules that make "neither financial or intellectual sense" gets it exactly backwards. I am never hired to explain rules that everyone understands. I work in areas that make no financial or intellectual sense, where the herculean task is to put some order in a tiny corner of the overall situation. The inefficiency of law and litigation does not begin with the licensing ritual. It begins with the silly statutes and convoluted rules that legislatures and courts put in place. You could repeal the bar tomorrow and nothing would change on that score. Ms. Wurtzel turns out to be a graduate of Yale Law school. But an expert on the bar examination she is not.