Professor Carol Chomsky Writes About the Bar Exam in Bench and Bar

In the most recent issue of Bench and Bar of Minnesota, Professor Chomsky shares her views about the inadequacy of the current bar exam as a measure of minimum competence to practice law. "In its current incarnation," she writes, "the exam essentially tests the ability of applicants to take an exam, not their ability to practice law. The exam focuses heavily on memorization of legal principles and issue-spotting, rather than testing the broad range of skills that lawyers need." Although noting that the NCBE has promised to address some of those inadequacies in its development of the NextGet bar exam, she says a written exam will always fall short of testing many critical skills of lawyering. She urges exploration of additional pathways "that allow applicants to prove their competence by actually doing legal work, with access to the sources and materials used in practice." The Minnesota Board of Law Examiners is currently considering proposals to do just that. Professor Chomsky co-chaired one of the Working Groups that is part of the MBLE review of licensing.