The results of the July 2008 administration of the California Bar Exam were released to the examinees on Friday 21 November 2008 at 6pm. At 5:30pm, I was running errands. I felt a certain discomfort in my stomach. Chalking it up to hunger, I headed for a local Chipotle. The line was a long one, and I considered leaving to go home and get online at 6pm. I resisted the urge.
As it turned out, I was online by 6:09pm. I entered my application and file numbers, and the California Bar Association web server spat back a screen. The most important sentence: "The name above appears on the pass list for the July 2008 California Bar Examination."
I read it several times to make sure I didn't misread it. Each time I felt my eyes welling up more and more. I had done it! I passed the California bar exam!
The remainder of Friday evening was filled with joy as friends who passed shared the good news. Many happy people combed their Facebook friends lists, over and over again, hopeful that all of their friends would soon be reporting good news.
After a lull in the insane Internet updates, I bought a 750mL bottle of Glenfiddich to savor at home. People were celebrating, but for once I decided to stay in to celebrate privately.
Not everyone passed. Unfortunately, some people that were close to me were not on the pass list. According to the California Bar Association, 61.7% of examinees passed, including 83% of first-time takers from ABA-accredited law schools in California. This is a higher pass rate than before, and the report notes that examinees across the country had performed very well on the multiple choice portion, the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), which is standardized across all jurisdictions. Having taken the MBE, I am surprised at that number, and conjecture that perhaps many questions had multiple acceptable answers. Either that, or most of the crazy mortgage-based questions were experimental, and thus not considered in the final accounting.
Another concern, for examinees in Southern California, was the impact of the Chino Hills earthquake. According to a report commissioned by the California Bar Association, the impact seemed to have been minor. The Bar Association adjusted exam scores by using the tests from Northern California as a control group. For some strange reason, although the earthquake occurred closer to the Ontario testing site, Ontario examinees were adjusted by only either 1 or 3 points, while San Diego examinees were ajdusted by either 3 or 5 points.
In any case, the result has been a vindication of three years of hard work. To those who passed with me, my heartfelt congratulations to you, you have worked hard and deserve it! To those who fell a little short, this is no judgment on your intelligence or your work ethic. If you decide to continue pursuing a career in the law, take the exam again, because I cannot wait for you to join me!