- Louisiana Bar Exam
The Louisiana Bar Exam is a three day long examination used to determine whether a candidate is qualified to practice
lawin the state of Louisiana.
The Louisiana exam holds the distinction of being the longest bar exam in the United States, consisting of 21 and a half hours of examination on nine topic areas. Testing is done on the Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of the designated exam week, with nothing on Tuesday and Thursday; it is the only bar examination in the United States not administered on consecutive days. The exam is offered twice a year, in February and July; with the July examination offered in both the New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas. As of 2008, the February exam is only offered in the New Orleans area.
Topic areas tested on Monday include Code I, II, and III (general Louisiana Civil Code topics). Wednesday's session covers Louisiana Code of
Civil Procedure, Torts, and Business Entities. Friday's session covers Constitutional Law; Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and Evidence; and Federal Jurisdictionand Procedure. The first five sections are referred to informally as "Code Sections" (since they test law that is supposed to be specific to the Louisiana Civil Code), and the last four are referred to as "non-Code Sections." This distinction is important for determining if someone has passed the bar exam (see below on passing.) The exam is almost entirely subjective essay questions, with some objective true/false or short-answer questions occasionally thrown in, depending on the specific examiner for that subject area; however, the exam is either entirely hand written or typed on a computer. Louisiana does not use the Multistate Bar Examinationor any sort of performance test.
Each of the nine sections has one examiner, who writes both the exam question and model answer, and a certain number of graders who grade the actual answers to the exams. Graders are usually practicing attorneys who are awarded CLE credit for their time. Each individual exam subject is scored on a scale of 0 to 100, with 70 being a passing score. Once a grader determines that a particular applicant has passed a section, his or her decision is final and not reviewable. If a grader determines that an applicant has failed a particular section, then the failed exam is reviewed and re-scored by the examiner for that section. The examiner's decision is final.
"Passing" the Louisiana bar exam is a bit different from most other jurisdictions, as there is no final "score." Instead, a bar applicant must pass seven of the nine sections in order to pass the exam. However, it cannot be any seven of the nine sections, the examinee must also pass four of five "code sections" (as described above) in order to pass outright. If an applicant does not meet that requirement, but passes any five sections is considered to have "conditioned" the exam, and only has to retake the areas he or she failed. An applicant is only given two more tries to pass the failed portions before he or she is required to retake the entire exam. Passing less than five sections is considered failing, and the entire exam must be retaken. There is no limit on the number of times one can take the Louisiana bar. Results of each examination are mailed to each applicant as well as posted on the front doors of the Louisiana State Supreme Court building and on the Supreme Court's website. Passing applicants are listed by full name, with conditional or failed applicants listed by fictitious name. The fictitious names are chosen by all applicants prior to taking the bar, and can get quite creative. Applicants who conditioned or failed the exam have the opportunity to review the sections they failed and compare them to other "model" passing answers from that administration. After the opportunity to review failed exams is over, all answers are destroyed. Applicants can only appeal mathematical errors in adding up the points for each exam, no substantive appeals are available.
Hurricane Katrinaimpacted a small number of the July 2005 applicants whose answers were destroyed when graders' offices and homes were flooded. Most applicants were not directly affected, as they had already met the minimum requirements for passing without relying on the answers that were destroyed. For the few whose passing was dependent on the destroyed exam answers (Code I), the Louisiana Supreme Court allowed them to retake the missing section of the exam; however, the re-test consisted of different questions than the original exam.
* [http://www.lascba.org/ Louisiana Supreme Court Committee on Bar Admissions.]
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