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Far be it from me to dredge up any of those memories you’ve been trying to suppress all these years, but I’d like to visit with you about the bar exam for a few minutes. Most of us have pretty substantial cases of post-traumatic stress disorder about the bar exam. Mine locked in about six seconds into the test. We had been assured during the review course that the mavens who constructed the essay portion of the exam had never, repeat never, put a question about a check on the exam. So when the first question started, “Smith has a check … ,” you could hear several hundred of us dupes anxiously reciting “Hail Mary” or whatever else we used to commend ourselves to the world beyond. Day two, which arrived after a largely sleepless night at an industrial-strength Ramada Inn, involved the legendary Multistate Bar Exam, a series of multiple-guess questions in which each victim chose from five “discriminators” — that’s what the double domes who created the test call an answer you can pick from — in the hope that a correct response would emerge. I remember being advised that it was important to know the elements of, and be able to distinguish between fraud, larceny by trick and deceit, three obscure common-law crimes whose applicability to any situation outside the Doomsday Book was less than clear. I never did figure it out, and that must be why I never got an offer from a really white-shoe firm after I got out of law school. Real white-shoe lawyers know that kind of stuff. I also remember with just about the same horror as the first auto crash I was in one question involving a particularly athletic police officer who climbed up a fire escape to look in a window in which he saw a marijuana plant growing. We were, as I recall, asked to determine whether said herb was in plain view. My thought at the time was that the cop probably had eaten too many doughnuts and couldn’t get up the damned stairs anyway. But that wasn’t one of the choices. Anyway, by the end of that portion of the test, I was cycling quickly among five multistate choices myself: (a) fear, (b) denial, (c) revulsion, (d) confusion and (e) nausea. Since that time, the powers that be have added the Multistate Ethics Examination, another test bearing about as much resemblance to the real world as a Dal� landscape does. I had to take it to get reciprocity and remember the first sample question had to do with the propriety of making political contributions to a judge running for office. None of the sample “discriminators” included the traditional Texas answer — you can give as much as you want as often as you want and should unless you’re completely out of touch with reality. NEW TEST TOPICS Let me humbly suggest that knowing the difference between fraud, larceny by trick and deceit is about as relevant to today’s legal world as being able to change the points and plugs on a 1957 Chevy. So now that this year’s crop of new attorneys has gone through the motions, let’s get ready for next year and get important, relevant career-influencing stuff on the test. Here are some proposals. Sound bite selection, Part 1. In this portion of the exam, the student is asked to discriminate among possible responses to reporters’ questioning during a press conference held on the courthouse steps. The student will be graded on such factors as sincerity, clothing selection, and ability to make an opponent look as craven and depraved as possible without losing First Amendment protection. This is obviously relevant to being retained in truly epochal legal matters, such as whether Gary Condit will undergo a polygraph examination. Sound bite selection, Part 2. In this portion of the exam, the student is placed in front of a camera and asked questions by a reporter from the Eyewitless News Team on a breaking subject that may somehow have legal implications. Students could practice for this by explaining the legal implications of the human genome project or why cloning was not banned after Woody Allen’s movie “Sleeper.” Clearly necessary to the modern practitioner, since higher exposure begets higher fees. Business casual awareness (BCA). The student is asked to review a major firm policy manual for attorneys and determine from a number of randomly selected pieces of clothing what constitutes appropriate business casual wear. Points are not awarded for selection of a country club souvenir shirt. Summer clerk — oops, associate — interaction. The student is asked to participate in various simulations in which the firm is trying to recruit the law review editor-in-chief as an associate. Points awarded for obsequiousness, providing appropriate entertainment opportunities and a general us-against-them attitude. These are just some of the examples of topics that ought to be tested. I don’t particularly care if the first-year down the hall knows about lien priority under revised Article 9. After all, in today’s post-modern interactive chat group legal world, knowing the distinction between Hilfiger and Polo is what really counts. Tom Alleman, a shareholder in the litigation section at Winstead Sechrest & Minick in Dallas, ate at a Howard Johnson’s after he took the LSAT. For that reason alone, it ought to be apparent that the opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of Winstead Sechrest & Minick, any of its clients or the Educational Testing Service.

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