Monday, December 8, 2014

California Style

Less than half of overall takers of the California bar examination passed the test this year, and, as it turns out, they do it on the west coast the same way they do it on the east coast:  blame the test makers.  First, the sympathy set-up so you're emotionally ready to exonerate the leaders:
"Law school deans are in a particularly difficult situation these days," said Derek Muller, a professor at Pepperdine University who writes on the business of law.
And now the flush:
Muller, the Pepperdine professor, said he didn't believe the drop in bar passage could be entirely explained by the test-takers because the rates fell in so many states. "It strikes me as something internal to the bar," he said.
See, if the results of the bar examination dropped in one state in isolation of all the other states, we could assume it was due to that one state being more stupider than all the rest, but since they dropped everywhere, it's just totally erroneous because everyone knows the entire law student population didn't get dumber overnight.  I mean, that's just dumb.

The opposite of dumb is Gilbert Holmes, who's currently leading La Verne on a thunderous comeback to relevance.  Note how he gracefully slips a soundbite into a sentence ostensibly criticizing soundbite reliance (that he surely knew was going to get published):
Many academics say the drop isn't a concern — at least not yet. "We live in a sound-bite society, but one year does not make a trend," said Gilbert A. Holmes, dean of the University of La Verne College of Law.
And now watch Holmes drop-kick the NCBE's cold remark that the 2014 class was "less able" to pass the bar with words:
"To make such a damning statement of this group of law students, to label them as being as less able based on solely that the average score was lower than the year before, is what got me upset and what got the other deans upset," said Holmes, who signed the administrators' letter.
Yeah, why use averages?  Everyone knows that if you want to reflect a data set properly, you give the median and 25th/75th percentiles.  Thankfully, the article doesn't mention that La Verne's 1L enrollment fell from 166 to 55 in 2011, because that's just another ludicrous and irrelevant data point that would make Holmes angry.

Gilbert Holmes?  More like the John Holmes of Semantics.  Only maybe without the AIDS or the cocaine thing.

The simple truth is that the bar examination is not fair if it precludes an open admissions policy,.  The sooner the powers that be accept this, the sooner we can all get back to our Swedish supermodels and Italian sports cars.  (Or, if you're a public defender, Italian supermodels in Swedish sports cars; there's a reason they call public service jobs a sacrifice).

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