Bell Nunnally associates Hannah C. Shoss, Kimberly A. Cruz and Kheana Pollard authored The Texas Lawbook article “Preparation Privilege: How the Bar Exam Amplifies Racial and Economic Disparities in the Legal Profession.” The piece delves into how law school students are often working with distinct advantages and with distinct hurdles as they sit for the bar exam, a credentialing that validates years of hard work and opens professional opportunities. The trio notes, “While the bar exam is grueling for everyone, we often forget what an enormous privilege it is to hold a license to practice law. And that privilege is hedged on every side by the necessity of financial resources and social support.”
Addressing the time and money needed to study for the bar exam and to utilize optional commercial bar prep courses and materials, a “Test of Resources:”
These burdens tend to fall disproportionally on racially diverse applicants, creating barriers to entry that are reflected in the legal profession’s persistent lack of diversity. As standardized testing and the cottage industry of high-cost prep courses undergo scrutiny across education levels and professional fields, these are realities that the legal profession must take into account.
On “Rethinking the Bar Exam:”
We need to take a close and thoughtful look at the bar exam’s current structure and far-reaching effects. As the legal profession collectively works to level the playing field, we should never lose sight of the importance of diversity in the law. It is vital to a healthy and well-functioning legal system.
Shoss, Cruz and Pollard conclude by offering:
As one of the biggest hurdles to the profession, the bar exam is due for a remodel, if not a demolition. Due to the unearned advantages and undeserved obstacles that substantially affect bar exam results, aspiring lawyers are not on equal footing as they prepare for the most important test of their professional lives. As a legal community, our commitment to diversity in law challenges us to do better.
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