Guest Posts

The High Cost of Not Lowering the Bar

June 28th, 2017 / By

Gilbert A. Holmes is Dean and Professor of Law at the University of La Verne College of Law

In July of 2016, graduates from ABA-approved law schools in California had a first-time General Bar Examination pass rate of 62 percent, and all bar takers in the state had a first-time pass rate of 56 percent. These numbers are down from previous years, sparking debate, discussion and deliberation about the reason for the decline and what can be done about it.

Deans of ABA-approved law schools in California have been calling for a lowering of the cut score that serves as the basis for grading of the exam. California has the second highest cut score in the country. It also has the lowest pass rate, even though researcher Roger Bolus reported to the State Bar of California that the state’s bar exam takers perform higher than the national average on the only portion of the exam that every state except Louisiana administers—the MBE.

The State Bar has responded to this call by engaging in a number of studies about the content and validity of the bar exam and the California grading system. (more…)

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The True Cost of the Georgia Bar Exam Error

September 8th, 2016 / By

To many, late October signals nothing more than fall in full swing, pumpkins, or costumes. In late May, we look forward to the Memorial Day holiday and long weekends. Yet, the last weekend of every October and May, Georgia bar takers anxiously await exam results. Some stalk the postman. Most spend the day refreshing a webpage, hoping and praying their name appears on the public pass list.

The stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—are experienced by one who fails a state bar exam. Imagine discovering that a family member is alive after grieving their death for ten months. This week, 90 Georgia bar takers—45 from July 2015 and 45 from February 2016—were informed that the thing they grieved was, in fact, alive. Though their names failed to appear on that very public pass list, they indeed passed the Georgia bar exam.

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Alternative Publishing Models For Cost-Conscious Professors

July 13th, 2016 / By

Casebooks are shockingly expensive. The latest edition of Stone, Seidman, Sunstein, Tushnet, and Karlan’s Constitutional Law has a list price of $242. It’s even more shocking when you consider where the money goes. Not to pay for the cases and other primary materials that make up most of a casebook’s contents: they’re public domain and free to all. Mostly not to cover printing costs: the paperback edition of The Power Broker (to pick a book with the same word count and heft as a casebook) has a list price of $26, and you can buy it on Amazon for $18. Mostly not to authors: royalty rates are typically 10% to 20%. No, most of that money ends up in the pockets of the casebook publishers and other middlemen in the casebook chain. This is a tax on legal education, sucking money from law students and from the taxpayers underwriting their student loans. (more…)

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Plaintiff’s Personal Injury (NYC): A Radically Changed Business [Small Firm]

June 5th, 2016 / By

When most people are injured in car wrecks or at work, they can’t afford to pay a lawyer an hourly fee out of pocket to win their case against a large corporation or their insurance company. That’s why attorneys for the plaintiffs in these lawsuits use a contingency fee, which pays the lawyer about a third of the total settlement or verdict — but only if the plaintiff wins. That amount covers the work done by the lawyers, and compensates them for the risk of no payout.

In this episode, Dan Minc, a 1977 graduate of Seton Hall School of Law, discusses how he managed to rise up to his firm’s managing partner after starting there as a first-year lawyer. He also talks about how he builds his book of business and what he assesses when determining whether to take a client. After all, he’s only paid if his client wins.

This episode is hosted by Derek Tokaz, an academic writing teacher at American University. It is sponsored by and

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Federal Criminal Defense: Representing Indigent Clients as a Public Defender

May 22nd, 2016 / By

The right to counsel for criminal charges is essential to our system of justice. The federal and state governments must provide you a lawyer if you can’t afford one. As such, underfunded public defender offices raise serious constitutional — not to mention moral — questions.

In this episode, Candace Hom, a 2001 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, explains her role in the criminal justice system. She also talks about how she builds trust between her and clients, the various legal job roles within the federal public defender office, and the challenges of dealing with prosecutors — even the good ones.

This episode is hosted by Debby Merritt a law professor at The Ohio State University. It is sponsored by and

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Business Immigration (OR): Helping Companies Bring Foreign Nationals To The U.S.

May 15th, 2016 / By

After graduating from Lewis & Clark Law School in 2010, Melina LaMorticella began her career at a local immigration boutique. Several years later she joined Tonkon Torp, a mid-size firm in Portland, OR. Business immigration law, however, is Melina’s third career. In the 15 years before starting law school, she worked in publishing and as a paralegal.

In this episode, Melina explains how the U.S. considers immigration applications from professional workers. She also talks about the charged political atmosphere she operates in, as well as what her typical day looks like.

This episode is hosted by Debby Merritt a law professor at The Ohio State University. It is sponsored by and

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Estate Planning and Probate (SC): Counseling on Legal Services and Otherwise

May 8th, 2016 / By

Kathryn Cockrill is a 2009 graduate of Touro Law School. Despite going to law school in the Northeast, she moved south to Charleston following law school. While she started her career at a small firm, she recently went out on her own to reap the rewards of building a business in estate planning and probate.

In this episode, Kathryn explains the ins and outs of probate, for both the living and the deceased. She also talks about how she avoids bill collection pitfalls, why she plans to hire help once her firm is on more stable financial footing, and why her practice keeps her interested and invested.

This episode is hosted by Kyle McEntee, LST’s executive director. It is sponsored by and

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A Look Into Our Archives

April 12th, 2016 / By

This episode is brought to you by BarBri Law Preview. They’re giving away a $10,000 scholarship for a 1L this fall. If you want to apply, go to

In this episode, Kyle McEntee (LST’s executive director) and Derek Tokaz (one of IATL‘s hosts) discuss three episodes from the archives. They reflect on what they found more interesting and important, emphasizing the value in researching legal careers early and often.

The three episodes are:

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Appellate Lawyer: Telling A Court They Got It Wrong [Small Firm]

April 3rd, 2016 / By

There’s an old saying: When the facts are on your side, pound the facts. When the law is on your side, pound the law. When neither is on you side, pound the table. But if you’re an appellate lawyer? All you have is the law because the record (facts) is set at the trial level.

Virginia Whitner Hoptman is a 1981 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law. Immediately following law school, she had back-to-back appellate clerkships. The first was with the Third Circuit and the second was with the U.S. Supreme Court. She changed course several times throughout her career, but has settled back where she started with a highly-specialized appellate practice.

In this episode, Virginia explains the appeals process for winners and losers at the trial level. She also talks to us about elitism in the world of appeals, how difficult it is to become a full-time appellate lawyer, and what makes appellate lawyers fundamentally different than trial lawyers.

This episode is hosted by Kyle McEntee, LST’s executive director. It is sponsored by and

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Criminal Defense (OK): The Business Side of Being a Lawyer [Solo]

March 20th, 2016 / By

This episode is presented by The United States Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corp.

When you are a solo practitioner, you are a small business owner who happens to provide legal services. Many new lawyers fail to fully appreciate this right away, aggravating the already tall challenge of learning to practice law on your own. 

Matt Swain is a 2009 graduate of the University of Oklahoma College of Law. Right after law school, he started his own criminal defense practice in a college town 20 miles outside of Oklahoma City. In this episode, Matt talks to us about the importance of understanding your business inside and out. He describes some of the techniques he uses that ultimately make him more efficient and more likely to notice opportunities to help his clients move forward with their lives.

This episode is hosted by Kimber Russell. It is sponsored by Barbri,, and

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ABA Journal Blawg 100 HonoreeLaw School Cafe is a resource for anyone interested in changes in legal education and the legal profession.

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