Saturday, October 28, 2006

Practical Skills on Bar Exams - Legal Research may be tested

Back in August, 2006, Jim passed along a note that Legal Writing Prof Blog (here) was reporting a possible move to add legal research to bar examinations. I heard that rumor again this weekend, with the comment that New York state is most likely to adopt such an addition to their bar exam in 2009. Evidently, there would be 50 multiple choice questions administered in a stand-alone test before the "main" bar exam. The original story was reported in the Bar Examiner issue of May, 2006 (link), but I don't see any article that discusses this issue in the archive.

The issue was mentioned twice at Legal Information and the Development of American Law: Further Thinking about the Thoughts of Bob Berring (Friday, October 20-21, 2006
Prof. Roy Mersky, of University of Texas, Austin, reports on this as well, as noted in the program here.
They even held a debate on the question of whether this should be added to bar exams:

Legal Research v. Legal Writing Within the Law School Curriculum

Roy M. Mersky (Tarlton Law Library, University of Texas at Austin)

The National Conference of Bar Examiners has proposed the development of a stand alone legal research component to the bar exam. This recognition of the importance of legal research skills highlights the need for increased attention to legal research instruction in law schools. The author looks at the history of legal writing and legal research programs in law schools, notes the continued demand by practitioners and the judiciary for improved legal research skills among recent graduates, and suggests curricular and instructional changes within the academy to address both these on-ongoing concerns and the expectations of a new generation of students.


Should Legal Research Be Included in the Bar Exam?

Steven M. Barkan (Professor & Director of Library and Information Services, University of Wisconsin Law School)

Moderator: Kathleen Vanden Heuvel (Director, Law Library; Adjunct Professor of Law; University of California School of Law, Berkeley)

I haven't yet found a bar examiner's site actually saying they are considering this new type of test. But I do know of 2 law schools which have added a required special class in research to prepare students for this skills test.

The wonderfully comic illustration by Charles Bragg, can be purchased at

1 comment:

Prof. Joseph D. Slaven said...

I specialize in doing Michigan Bar Exam Appeals and Bar Exam Tutoring. I also am a Professor at Univ of Detroit School of Law teaching "Bar Exam Topics and Exam Strategies." Having devoted the last 10 years to the subject, (, I have had many discussions with Bar Examiners and have gone to several national conventions regarding the Bar Exam and surrounding issues. I have only heard about this in rumor form and noone as confirmed the same. Also, they have stated that adding such an issue to the exam would be an administrative train wreck. I would not put too much stock in it happening any time soon.