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RELIGIOUS HOLIDAY PROMPTS BAR TO RETHINK EXAM DATE For six would-be lawyers, the first day of the State Bar’s three-day July bar exam this year couldn’t have fallen on a worse day. The students are Jewish, and July 27 happens to be Tish’a B’Av, a day of mourning on which observant Jews are forbidden to do just about anything — eat, drink, bathe, have sex, study the Torah or conduct work of any manner. The Bar’s Committee of Bar Examiners will decide at a meeting in Los Angeles on Saturday whether to juggle the testing dates for not only those honoring Tish’a B’Av, but also for individuals requesting special accommodations for other religious commemorations that might conflict with exams. The resolution will likely be given the OK, considering that the State Bar Board of Governors’ Committee on Operations recently adopted it on an immediate, interim basis. “We think it’s the right thing to do,” Starr Babcock, special assistant to the Bar’s executive director, said Thursday. “My view is that we acted pretty quickly in response to expressions of concern.” Originally, however, the Committee of Bar Examiners had denied the six students’ petition for relief. But the Committee on Operations felt that was too hard-line and approved a policy for people with “a set of sincerely held beliefs, observances and practices that occupy a place of importance.” “In the future,” Babcock said, “we’ll deal with these on a case-by-case basis.” Most likely, he said, anyone who petitions the bar examiners for a religious accommodation for Tish’a B’Av will be given the first day’s test later in the week. Since Tish’a B’Av is on a lunar calendar, the last time it fell on a Bar test day was in 1993. But, Babcock said, no one petitioned for relief then. According to the Web site Judaism 101, Tish’a B’Av marks the destruction of the first and second temples in Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. and the Romans in the year 70 A.D. — Mike McKee UNDERSTANDINGI DO’ A lot of people don’t know the do’s and don’ts connected with saying “I do.” That’s the premise behind legislation carried this session by Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson, a Democrat from Santa Barbara County. Jackson’s modest proposal is the creation of a marriage “fact sheet,” in English and Spanish, with summaries of the “rights and responsibilities of marriage” produced by the Judicial Council and handed out by county clerks to couples about to unwittingly plunge into wedlock. “More people enter into a marriage contract than any other contract,” notes Jackson, a former prosecutor, in her bill summary. “Far too many of these individuals enter into marriage without understanding the contractual obligations a marriage creates.” The council would also be required to post the fact sheet on its Web site for the benefit of couples who joined in matrimony without knowing just what was involved. Jackson, who is married, wants the marriage fact sheet to cover community property, child and spousal support, and laws pertaining to domestic violence and spousal rape. Her chief of staff, Janice Rocco, says similar sheets are already distributed to prospective couples in other states, including Florida, Arizona and Texas. The bill awaits a third reading in the Assembly. So far, no one has amended the bill to include other important marital responsibilities: replacing the toothpaste cap, lowering the toilet seat, and — most importantly — never answering “Am I getting fat?” in the affirmative. – Jill Duman RESTROOM RESPITE Most law firms offer guests coffee and soda. At Oakland’s Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean weary travelers get a lot more. Been too busy to shine your shoes? Had to work all night and desperately need a shave? Step into the men’s bathroom and you’ll find everything you need to freshen up. The amenities include a shoeshine machine, shaving lotion, toothpaste, hand lotion, chewing gum and five flavors of mouthwash. If you’ve been wondering about your weight lately, there’s also a bathroom scale on hand. And if you want to check out the headlines of the day, there are newspapers hanging in front of the urinals. Partner Walter Turner said he started stocking the restroom about five years ago as a lark, first adding a tin of talc. He’d gotten a haircut and the barber had used the powder on his neck. The smell “called up a memory of getting a haircut when I was 9 years old in southern Illinois,” Turner said. Over the years he has added more products, and even picked up a tip from Martha Stewart — the mouthwash is displayed in crystal decanters. Turner restocks the supplies every month. “I tell people it’s my most important function,” joked Turner, who has been a partner at the firm for 20 years. He has also inspired female colleagues to spruce up their bathroom. But receptionist Robin Franklin said it only has the basic necessities, such as a sewing kit, hair spray, safety pins, lotion and one bottle of mouthwash. The women’s room “is nothing compared to their bathroom,” she laughed. “People have been coming out of the men’s room for years saying how awesome it is.” — Brenda Sandburg

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