The State Bar of California’s decision July 27 to release the topics of the essay questions for the upcoming bar exam after an inadvertent leak to some law deans has caused quite a stir. But it’s hardly the first time things have gone sideways when it comes to the bar exam. From lost tests and technology glitches to many a scoring mistake, the twice-annual attorney licensing exam is a perpetual breeding ground for flubs.
Still, the California release of the essay topics—the actual essay prompts remain under wraps, though the bar’s disclosure has narrowed the possible topic list from 13 to seven—is an unusual situation in that it happened in the run up to the exam. Most bar exam glitches surface during the two-day test, or in the months afterward when exams are scored and results are released. The pre-test nature of the latest drama is an unusual twist. Here, we’re taking a walk down memory lane and revisiting some of the most dramatic and gut-wrenching bar exam blunders of years past.
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