Different levels of Attorneys!
The CA Bar exam passing score is 1390 out of 2000 points. I took the Bar. I have to disagree with people who say it’s a test of minimum competency. It requires a strong grasp on hundreds of mini-topics from 13 subjects. Whatever commercial materials exist to study, they aren’t exactly the same as the exam. One has to apply what they know to best answer questions. There is much talk among candidates about the validity of the exam. It is extremely challenging. Some people do pass. One thing going for it is that some people pass, and everyone is subject to pretty much the same standard. While there is some latitude among the essay grading, graders are given scoring sheets and are supposed to give grades based on content/organization etc.
This brings up the idea of having 2 different passing levels for the exam. Certainly those who barely fail have a lot of legal knowledge, and could be good attorneys, especially in certain contexts. There are currently some exceptions to having to pass the Bar-namely, those who graduated during Covid can practice on a limited basis temporarily under an attorney’s guidance.
However, given that the Bar often has a 30% pass rate, that still leaves many able candidates out of the legal profession. Perhaps if those who score over 1290, or some other level, could become quasi-attorneys, allowed to practice law on a limited basis, for certain tasks. Perhaps counseling clients who are near bankruptcy or have criminal jeopardy. Or to help those in rural areas, where lawyers are in short supply. Perhaps limits on fees could be put in place in these circumstances. Of course, these quasi attorneys could retake the exam and advance to become full attorneys. Or they could advance after a certain number of years of this ‘partial practice’.
This would help the public and the JD’s.