Blawg Review #35
CATO Unbound

Kathleen Goes Belly Up

I have only taken one bar exam, and I was fortunate enough to pass it on my first try. The key? For once in my life, I followed instructions and attended every class. No, I am not talking about law school, I am talking about the bar review course.

What is Kathleen Sullivan's excuse for failing the California bar exam?

Bar exams are not rocket science. They are a test of minimum competence to spot issues in the woeful tales clients come to tell us. A lawyer who has passed the bar exam is deemed able to sit, listen, and place the problem in the right pigeon hole.

So, let me get this right: The former dean of the Stanford Law School can't do that?

Sullivan was recruited last year to join a hot-shot California firm, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, LLP. She is one of their appellate aces. It is safe to say she won't be arguing as anything other than pro hac vice in California for awhile.

What felled Sullivan? She is admitted in New York and Massachusetts. She has argued before the United States Supreme Court. She has authored a case book on Constitutional law. She is one of the law's hot shots, the sort that makes we lesser lights look downright dim.

Her firm is blaming the bar review graders. Oops I suspect the answer is simpler. She didn't study. No caviar in her firm's boardroom today; instead lots of raw egg to wipe from the corners of pursed lips.

Ms. Sullivan was unavailable to comment on the failure to a reporter for The Wall Street Journal. She was at a "remote location."

I'll bet she was. This time she's probably sitting somewhere shamefully doing what she should have done before the first time she took the exam: studying.

Will this kill any chance she had of appointment to the United States Supreme Court should a Democrat ever again have a chance to appoint someone? Probably. Imagine the confirmation hearing? You failed the bar exam after how many decades of practicing law?

The Harvard law graduate is a great legal theoretician, but apparently not much of a lawyer. No surprise there.

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