Jan Bissett is Reference Librarian with Dickinson Wright PLLC.
Margi Heinen is the Manager of Library Services at Sherman and Howard.
Link to archives of Reference From Coast to Coast: Sources and Strategies.
The long-anticipated, eagerly and anxiously awaited time is here: July Bar Exam results are making their appearance. In the olden days, exam takers ran to the mailbox each day for weeks looking for the letter that described their fate. These days not only do examinees find out electronically but their fate is proclaimed to much of the world as well. As we prepare this column, the following notice appeared at the Delaware Board of Bar Examiners website: “The results from the July 2006 Bar Examination will be released on Wednesday, October 4, 2006. Results will be posted by secret number only on October 4th. The names of passing applicants will be posted on Thursday, October 5th. Results (including scores for unsuccessful applicants) will be mailed on Friday, October 6th.” Does this online notice make everyone more anxious? An article, Online Posting of Bar Results can Boost Anxiety for Grads, by Stacy Forster, republished at http://www.chesslaw.com/anxiety.htm, implies “yes” but indicates there have been few complaints about the procedure. As librarians we can attest to the added tension these online postings can pose to library staff. “Are the bar results out yet?” “Can you get me a copy of the Bar results-I heard they were out this morning?” Well, here are some tips for finding Bar exam results, exam schedules, reciprocity and more.
Because attorneys are a self-regulated profession, we don’t find information about their qualifications or licensure by digging into Secretary of State or Department of Commerce licensing statutes, rules or databases. The Bar of each state regulates the examination and membership of attorneys for that state. You can locate some handy listings for each state via Findlaw’s The Bar. The University of Pittsburgh School of Law’s Jurist “Bar Exams/Bar Admissions” provides nifty lists of each state’s Bar website and lets you choose between admission rules, bar exam rules, bar exam questions and recent bar exam results. You can also go to an individual state bar website for exam results. Legal newspapers in each state usually post the bar exam results as soon as they are available. Every state but Delaware offers the Bar Exam in February and July-with the July participation the highest. Using our home states as examples, we can locate bar exam results as well as statistics concerning those results and information about the admissions process from several sources.
In Colorado, Law Week Colorado published the list of the Bar exam’s successful takers as “Breaking News” on October 5, 2006 and included the information that the folks listed would be sworn in 2 week hence. The Colorado Supreme Court website had previously promised the list would be posted “no later than October 5th” and they did not disappoint.
In Michigan, bar results are released mid-November for the July exam. The Michigan Supreme Court via the Board of Law Examiners and the State Bar of Michigan Committee on Character and Fitness oversees admission to practice. The Michigan Supreme Court’s State Board of Law Examiners FAQ and the State Bar of Michigan’s “Admission Process Overview” provide information about the applications process, bar exam and required background investigation. Bar exam results, including statistics and names of passing applicants are published in local legal newspapers such as the Michigan Lawyers Weekly as well as The Detroit Legal News.
The Patent Bar has its own examination and provides exam resources, registration notices and a roster search as well as information concerning registered attorneys and agents available from the USPTO’s Office of Enrollment and Discipline. This site is loaded with all the necessary details to register for the Patent Bar-even decisions made on appeals for re-grading of an exam.
In addition to finding out if a particular individual has passed the bar, you may need to garner statistics on the percentage of students passing the bar from area law schools. Usually the news accounts and the Supreme Court websites will provide that statistical breakdown also. For example, the Colorado Supreme Court includes statistics on passage in general and by Colorado law schools as well. Of course, the major players in the Bar Exam arena are the Bar Examiners who have joined together in the National Conference of Bar Examiners. Their website provides a 60 page Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements – gives reciprocity and Continuing Legal Education requirements as well. They also have practically 25 years worth of statistics if you need to compare jurisdictions.
Whether waiting for results or trying to quickly determine the status of your new associates and their law school colleagues, many bar exam results are available from your state Supreme Court, Board of Law Examiners or local legal newspaper. Statistical information, including passage rates of specific schools may also be available from these sources or the National Conference of Bar Examiners.