California set to unleash plague of less qualified lawyers
On top of high taxes, crumbling roads, a huge imported underclass, one third of the nation's poverty population, and overpaid bureaucrats, this is just what California needs to complete the destruction of its business environment and quality of life. Elizabeth Olson writes in the New York Times:
California has long had a reputation for having one of the most difficult bar exams in the country. Now, with passage rates sagging, the state will make it easier to pass the test, which is required to be licensed as a practicing lawyer.
The California Supreme Court, the ultimate authority over the bar exam, has decided to change the way the certification score is set. The court has not yet decided where the threshold will be set, but the changes will take effect in January.
I suppose it is theoretically possible they could raise the standards, but it does not look like that is in the cards:
The move follows a sometimes furious debate in California legal circles over whether the state's passing score, or "cut score" – 144 – was unrealistic.
Each state offers its own bar exam, but many are moving toward more uniform exams, especially in the multiple-choice portion. What differentiates states is where they set the line for passage. For years, California had set the threshold for passing the exam higher than any other state but Delaware.
Last year, just 62 percent of first-time test takers passed the California bar exam, compared with 83 percent in New York.
Why is this a problem for the public? High standards are good. They weed out the less qualified in favor of those who work hard and are intelligent, qualities we want lawyers to have. Of course, it is a bit embarrassing for institutions that charge a lot of money to educate lawyers:
And only 51 percent of the graduates of the University of California Hastings College of the Law passed the state's exam in July 2016. That result, the school's dean, David L. Faigman, wrote the California Committee of Bar Examiners last December, was "outrageous and constitutes unconscionable conduct on the part of a trade association that masquerades as a state agency."
So Dean Faigman of the taxpayer-supported University of California is taking the position that the barrier to entry of high test score requirements limits the supply and raises prices of legal services and the income for those lawyers smart enough to pass the bar. The law of supply and demand does work, so he has a point.
But is lowering the quality to increase the supply of lawyers desirable? No doubt, it will increase the litigiousness in California, since lawyers have to do something to keep busy once they pass the easier bar exam. How many of those who flunked in previous years will take a shot at the new lower standard, assuming that the CaliSupremes go ahead and lower it? How big a one-time bump can we expect from the rejects of previous years?
The thing is, even a stupid lawyer can bring a lawsuit.
How does this benefit Californians?
The elites who run California are determined to wreck the choicest (earthquake faults aside) piece of real estate on the continent. Another nail in the coffin.
For the wealthy, nuisance lawsuits are a cost of living item. But for businesses and individuals, they can cause catastrophic financial damage.
But the move would be good news for Los Angeles Mayor Anthony Villaraigosa (the former Tony Villar, who changed his name when he got married, adding his wife's last name, Raigosa):
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who graduated from an unaccredited law school, finally called it quits after taking the bar exam four times. His office failed to respond to questions, and Villaraigosa, reached as he entered a downtown restaurant, was at a loss to explain why he had been unable to muster a passing score.
"All I can tell you is that I failed four times," the mayor said.