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A blow upon a bruise

There is one rite of passage that every lawyer in every state will remember: the bar exam.

It’s a grueling process across several days in which all the information and knowledge and expertise you (hopefully) acquired in three years of law school is literally put to the test.

The odds are generally in your favor, with pass rates generally north of 60 percent.

Last month, an unfortunate group of lawyer wannabes suffered insult to injury. On Twitter the snafu was called #Barmageddon, according to the Associated Press.

The test-takers took their respective bar exams, then to their shock and horror, couldn’t upload the results using software from an outfit called ExamSoft Worldwide Inc.

ExamSoft has been in the testing software business a long time – since 1998 – and in 42 states, if you choose to use a laptop for the exam, you must upload your answers using their product.

The wannabes should be glad that Virginia is one of the states that doesn’t use ExamSoft.

Scott Street, secretary to the Board of Bar Examiners, said last month that the commonwealth uses a different application from a company called Extegrity. No complaints were reported here.

But for many, the ExamSoft problem was a big headache. It was caused by upgrades in the software system, according to a statement from ExamSoft  VP Sam Knotts, in “an attempt to improve the exam taker experience.” Talk about a euphemism.

Some states  using ExamSoft, such as Michigan and Ohio, gave test-takers additional time in which to upload their answers, hoping to lessen the anxiety.

In other places, though, angry wannabes are suing, with lawsuits already filed in Washington, Illinois and California.
They might want to check the civ pro sections of their bar review books, under “ripeness.” They haven’t failed the bar…yet anyway.

They may well already have a claim to get their money back – exam takers pay ExamSoft between $125 and $150 for the software needed to use a computer.

Moral of the story for the class of 2015, even those in Virginia: Buy a package of pencils and sharpen every one of them. Taking the bar exam with pencil and paper is free, and when, where and how you turn in your results all are entirely under your control.

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