Here are some facts about the California State Bar that are interesting*:
1. There are more lawyers in California than any state other than New York.
2.California has the second hardest licensing exam in the US, and it has had for many years.
3. Only 35% of those who graduated from California law schools passed the most recent exam. Only 43% passed the one before.
4. There has been a steep drop in first-year law school enrollment. Nationwide, it fell 29% from 2010 to 2016.
5. Even so, there are a significant number of unemployed licensed lawyers who have had to seek other kinds of employment.
*Wall Street Journal, June 1, 2017, Page A-3
So with those facts in mind, California law schools are pressuring the California Supreme Court to lower the grade necessary to pass the exam. That court oversees the state bar and regulates the exam.
The reason so many fail is because not enough of their legal education rubs off on them to pass.
The public would surmise that if the practicing attorneys before them passed, the new graduates should have to as well.
But the schools have a different prospective.
They need to produce attorneys to justify law school salaries, and the easiest way to do that is to lower requirements rather than point the finger at themselves.
I think here there is a significant parallel to the real estate brokerage industry of today.
The public wants the most competent real estate agents and brokers to represent them. The licensing boards and the NAR, state and local Associations of Realtors want the maximum number of "customers" as it increases those organizations importance, income-wise.
There has never been a shortage of real estate agents, and there probably never will be. If a person wants to list a home or buy one, within a few minutes he can find a listing agent or a buyer's agent ready to help him.
The problem is that our industry has continued to reduce its professional requirements over time, and has created the very reason that so many licensed agents don't make a living.
When I took the Texas exam in 1966, there were at least 100 taking the exam with me. The proctor asked how many were taking it for the second time. At least 40 hands rose. And then he asked, how many were taking it for the third or more time. At least 30 more raised their hand.
(I passed it on the first attempt. I know you were wondering But I had 12 semester hours of real estate classes at an accredited university.)
It's interesting that the association officers who are elected by the members for years have been impotent in any significant effort to better our profession. Maybe it's because they are in and out of office in a year.
But whatever the reason, licensing and Realtor membership should be causing increased proof of professional real estate knowledge rather than making sure that most will be able to pass the exam that is given.
I don't know how to make that happen. Perhaps you do.
BILL CHERRY, REALTOR