The California State Bar has announced that the General Bar Exam will now be reduced from three days to two days. This change recently was approved by the California Supreme Court.
State Bar President David Pasternak spoke recently to a meeting of Orange County Bar Association leadership, including St. Francis School of Law Dean Carole J. Buckner, who co-chairs the Professionalism and Ethics Committee for the OCBA. Pasternak indicated that based on studies completed by the State Bar, the results of the exam are not projected to change.
Pasternak indicated that by moving to the two day bar California joins the vast majority of other states with two day exams. At the same time, Pasternak indicated, California will continue to write its own exam, and will not be adopting the national bar exam, as many other states have done. Pasternak expects that the bar exam will continue to be the most rigorous in the nation.
The two day exam will include one full day of multiple choice questions and a second day of essays and a performance exam. The performance exam will be reduced from three hours to ninety minutes.
The State Bar is continuing its consideration of several other proposals, including the recommendation of a State Bar Task Force requiring 15 units of legal education in legal skills. At the recent meeting with OCBA leadership, President Pasternak indicated that this proposal is not likely to be implemented.
St. Francis Bar Preparation Courses
St. Francis School of Law is offering a for-credit general bar review course to St. Francis students as part of its curriculum, covering all bar tested subjects. Many traditional law schools offer similar courses. The St. Francis course includes: substantive law review, practice exam writing with feedback to students, as well as multiple-choice and simulated performance exams. The course will be offered to all St. Francis students just prior to graduation. Instructors include St. Francis professors who have taught the subjects tested, and who have extensive experience in their fields of practice
St. Francis also offers a for-credit preparation course for the first year law students’ exam, with practice exams, and several mock bar exams, with detailed feedback. St. Francis most recently passed the California State Bar First Year Law Students’ Exam at a rate of 87.5%.
St. Francis Legal Skills Education
While it remains uncertain whether the State Bar’s task force requiring 15 units of education involving professional legal skills will be implemented, St. Francis School of Law already offers extensive skills instruction in its courses. Students in the criminal law course recently completed oral argument at a mock sentencing hearing. Students in Advanced Legal Writing recently completed a mock appellate argument. St. Francis students taking the Alternative Dispute Resolution course recently completed a mock negotiation, mediation, and arbitration. Students in the Drafting Pleadings course recently completed a draft complaint and answer. Students in the St. Francis Trusts, Wills and Estates class recently completed drafting a will. Students in St. Francis’ Compliance course are crafting a compliance plan over the course of the class. Students in Criminal Procedure drafted an opposition to a motion to suppress evidence.
These professional skills related assignments are taught and evaluated by St. Francis facultymembers, who have extensive experience in the practice of law in the substantive doctrines they are teaching. St. Francis faculty members provide feedback to students allowing them to develop their professional legal skills as they progress through the program. Many professional skills exercises are fully integrated into the St. Francis curriculum.