The 2011 bar exam has a welcome feature. It aims to exclude “trivia” type questions by giving examinees an idea of the actual coverage through a “syllabus.” (Please click on the bar subject in the link to see the particular syllabus.)
The syllabus comes with the following disclaimer:
“IMPORTANT NOTE: This bar coverage description is not intended and should not be used by law schools as a syllabus or course outline in the covered subjects. It has been drawn up for the limited purpose of ensuring that candidates reviewing for the bar examinations are guided on what basic and minimum amounts of laws, doctrines, and principles they need to know and be able to use correctly before they can be licensed to practice law. More is required for excellent and distinguished work as members of the Bar.”
Perhaps it’s asking too much to undo a century of tradition, but if the disclaimer is to be given its proper weight and conclusion, there should perhaps be no more publication of bar exam grades and no more identification of the top placers. After all, “more is required for … distinguished work.”
Of course, each law school can still publicize how many of its graduates pass the bar, and that seems to be a fair measure of how schools adequately prepare their students.