The Legal Beat
Bar Exam Marred With Tech Problems, WHAT A SURPRISE!!!
Posted on Wednesday July 28, 2021
When bar examinations kicked off around the country yesterday, we hoped widespread tech difficulties wouldn’t plague the experience for graduates trying to start their careers. But we still expected the worst.
And, of course, that proved to be the right call as our hopes went down in a hail of frozen laptop screens. The rash of blue screens of death yesterday merely underscored that today’s bar applicants are just 21st century professionals living in a Microsoft 95 world.
First came news out of New York:
several online examinees have been forced out of the online bar exam — all NY takers I know have been told they do not get to make up that portion of the exam.
I sincerely hope cooler heads have prevailed on the question of making up this part of the exam. Because as the day rolled on, it became clear that this was a bigger issue.
A California examinee informed us:
This happened to me in the second essay portion of the program, took an hour and a half on the phone with examsoft support and they tech support guy mentioned this was more widespread issue specifically. Personally, when it finally worked again the essay was deleted and I had 20 minutes to type something before the close of the *next* essay open window. Guy told me to contact the CA bar to see if they would do something but said they would not communicate the issue themselves, and could not do anything to delay the start times to adjust for the tech problem.
Stellar customer service: “We’re not going to tell the state bar that it was our software’s fault, but I guess you should.” But I guess it could be worse:
There are foreign exchange desks that do less buck passing than these jokers.
The bug even hit Stanford grad Nicholas Wallace, who you might remember from the Federalist Society’s efforts to keep him from graduating.
Today, examinees are being told that this is a known issue, but that the only solution is the low-tech option of “golly, maybe try rebooting first?” This is from the Tennessee bar examiners:
This is the computer equivalent of selling someone a car with the caveat, “You’ve got to push it down a little hill and then pop it into gear to get it to start but otherwise it’s a fine vehicle!” If the software isn’t providing a consistently workable experience then the whole process is broken.
The poll below is obviously unscientific, but these are disturbing numbers for a process that’s entering its third go around in the pandemic era.
And lest we lose focus amidst all the tech failings, those jurisdictions running remote exams still amount to a human tragedy due to the ridiculous monitoring software that flags examinees as cheaters if they move at all during the test.
There absolutely has to be a better way of guaranteeing minimum competency than a one-time test on material that attorneys will likely never use again administered in a closed book format that would amount to an ethical violation if the attorney ever tried to practice that way. I’ve said the line, “the practice of law is open book” many times, but here’s a more fun way of thinking about it:
But the death drive for this test is so strong we’re going to force budding professionals to wear diapers with crashing computers to get it done no matter what obstacles are out there.
Good luck on the second day, folks. Hopefully it will run smoother.
But we’re still expecting the worst.
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.