It all ends with a 1964 Buick Skylark...

There hasn't been a lot of time to write anything on here over the past four years. This was probably a good thing considering the spelling and grammatical errors in what I saw, I have posted in the past.

Notwithstanding, earlier this evening I took the MPRE, better known as the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination. For me, this was the last part of finishing law school. Granted, who knows if I passed the Florida Bar Exam, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if I ended up with a bar history similar to that of Vinny Gambini. For those of you who haven't seen the movie, Mr. Gambini passed the New York Bar Exam six years after finishing law school.

For all intents and purposes, though, finishing the MPRE was the end of the formal law school road for me.

Bar Exam Breakdown

The Florida Bar Exam was the most miserable experience of my life. I don't think anyone who is not a lawyer - or maybe doctor - can understand what this test does to you. It is an awful existence for three months. It feels like you are alive, but not really living. I laughed at others when they talked about the bar exam, thinking that if one just put in the time and hold yourself together mentally while showing up every day, that you will be fine. How wrong I was. I tried my best and gave the bar exam my all, and I still may have failed. What does that say about a test when you give it your heart and soul and still have a very real chance of failure? The test is hard, and showing up every day to give your best isn't enough. To pass the Florida Bar Exam (I cannot speak for other states) you have to know your stuff and perform. It isn't a joke, and going through the motions guarantees failure. Usually, showing up is more than half of the battle. Not with the bar exam. The bar exam requires proficient performance.

Despite how miserable it was, I wish more things in life were like the bar exam. Sure, more people would feel rejected and fail more often, but what does a trophy mean now-days that society takes the default position of calling everyone a winner for showing up? I'd rather try for something difficult and fail (and trust me I've done a lot of this) rather than get a trophy because I showed up and put in good faith effort. Society shouldn't reward mediocrity.

This is why every state should have bar admission standards, like Florida and California. California has a harder bar exam than Florida, but Florida has standards. Some states that allow legal license reciprocity with other states (so some lawyers don't need to take a bar exam to practice), use a uniform (easier) test called the UBE ("Uniform Bar Exam"), and require MBE ("Multistate Bar Examination") scores lower than California and Florida. For all the non-lawyers reading, all state bar exam's require the MBE combined with either a state specific test or the UBE. State specific tests tend to be harder if you didn't catch that above. The UBE contains a "performance" portion, which requires less standard rule memorization than a "traditional" bar exam. It all goes to an overall lowering of standards. Even Florida should do more to raise their standards. For example, in Florida, you need to get approximately 62% of questions right on the MBE. In California, candidates needs to get approximately 65% correct on the MBE. Why can't Florida require 65% like California? High standards are better for the profession.

The Florida Bar was online in July 2021. This should not have happened. An online exam is easier than an in-person exam and is easier to cheat. I don't want to get into the weeds of why, because it doesn't take a genius to understand that taking the bar exam in your home reduces anxiety. The goal of the bar exam isn't to reduce anxiety and make test takers feel safe and comfortable. It all goes to a general lowering of standards in society. The legal profession is saturated with attorneys because the standards for going to law school and passing the bar are being lowered and lowered. I'd rather the profession have high standards, even if it meant that it would take me a lot longer to get a license to practice law.

Getting back to My Cousin Vinny...

I had never heard of My Cousin Vinny prior to a few years ago. I only watched it tonight because I had seen so many individual scenes of it during school over the past three years that I couldn't help but watch the full movie when it came on TV randomly the first night that I turned on a TV to relax in over three months. It felt like a fitting end.

By my count, I lost five people in my life during law school. I had to count using my hand. This is a lot of people. True, a lot of what happened is my fault. Who I am and how I acted was the most significant contributory factor in each of these situations. But, the fact remains that the profession, which starts when you start school, contributed in its own way in each to each person I lost. There is a scene in My Cousin Vinny where Vinny almost loses someone in his own life as a result of the stress (the scene at the hunting cabin with the weird 1990s Jazzercise outfit if you are looking).

The following line by Mona Lisa Vito was a fitting end to the movie, and a fitting end for me.

“You know, this could be a sign of things to come. You win all your cases, but with somebody else’s help, right? You win case after case, and then afterwards you have to go up to somebody, and you have to say, ‘Thank you.’”

So, just as expert testimony about a 1964 Buick Skylark ended Vinny Gambini's first case, so too did a 1964 Buick Skylark end my own small journey.

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