Interview Segment to be Added to the Bar Exam to Improve Professionalism


Bar examiners announced recently that the July 2015 Bar exam is adding an interview portion on the third day to attempt to “weed out the most annoying and overly-litigious among the incoming class of lawyers,” said one bar examiner.

Shakespeare wrote, in Henry VI, Part II, “the first thing we do is kill all the lawyers.” Since that line was spoken by an evil character bent on throwing society into chaos to seize power, the statement is really emphasizing the crucial role of lawyers in a free society. Yet, the public still sides with such unbridled chaos over us lawyers. Ouch. That’s where some state bar examiners are taking drastic action to improve our image.

The National Conference of Bar Examiners is developing a cutting-edge addition to the bar exam featuring a team of interviewers, using top-secret enhanced interrogation techniques designed to test the personality and character of the applicants beyond the traditional, paper-based application. The bar examiners stress that the new interview portion of the exam will go beyond the capability of the traditional paper-based investigation.

Those sought to be screened can be everyone from the opposing counsel who must raise his voice to make every single point or the one who constantly moves for sanctions in the face of any opposition. We also wish to eliminate those with poor etiquette, such as those who never return phone calls or others who need an extension every time something is due. One portion of the interview tests whether an interviewee will insufferably continue to argue to the court after the judge has ruled against him.

One senior-level bar examiner, speaking on a condition of anonymity, surmised that many clients are representing themselves only because of the sheer burden of merely being in the presence of lawyers.

They want our legal advice, but on the other hand, we can definitely come across as stuffy, boring, and argumentative. Who can deal with that? We don’t even like talking to each other. That is how the concept of mandatory mediation got started, by the way.

One longtime proctor lamented the extra time that this would add to exam process, but then also rejoiced over the notion of inserting a softer, more personal side to the profession.

Members of the bar may be hesitant to see a change, even though it affects only the new admittees to the bar. Sure, it will be a little different to get used to, but the profession adapts to changes all the time. Remember when we did away with quills? Does computer-based legal research ring a bell? Chalk this new one up to the ever-evolving nature of commerce and client demand.

As for what the public thinks, they seem mostly in favor of it. “I guess they just want to see if you guys have souls,” said one commenter, who hired a lawyer last year for a civil dispute. “I needed some help, but it’s just so off-putting when y’all start talkin’ all that witnesseth, junk,” she continued. “It’d be nice to see a softer, personal side,” echoed many clients who weighed in. “It can’t be worse than your typical rude, boorish, litigious routine, you scumbags,” said one litigant, while storming out of a local courthouse.

This drastic procedural measure is meant to help repair a growing rift between lawyers and clients, resulting in a huge rise in pro se litigation that can overrun our courts. For a while, many experts thought this was due to the expense of legal services. Upon further study, it turns out that we can just be jerks.


K-Lewis-headshot(2)By Keith Lewis, a Denver-based litigation attorney. He can be reached at keith@freelancelegalcounsel.com.