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May 16 Digest

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 16, 2017

California’s Bar Exam Results Are Absolutely Abysmal

The results are in from the February 2017 administration of the California bar exam, and they are not pretty.

According to a press release from the State Bar of California, the overall passage rate for the February 2017 exam was 34.5 percent, while the passage rate for first-time takers was 39 percent. The passage rate for retakers was a shockingly low 33 percent. For the sake of comparison, let’s take a look at the results for the past few administrations of the California bar exam.

In February 2015, the overall passage rate was 39.5 percent, and the passage rate for first-time takers was 47.4 percent. In July 2015, the overall passage rate was 46.6 percent, and the passage rate for first-time takers was 60 percent. In February 2016, the overall passage rate was 35.7 percent, and the passage rate for first-time takers was 45 percent. In July 2016, the overall passage rate was 43 percent, and the passage rate for first-time takers was 56 percent.

ABA Counters Trump's Transgender Directive in Appeals Court

The consequences of discrimination follow transgender students and their classmates into the legal profession, warned the American Bar Association in an amicus brief that urged a federal appellate court to find that such unfairness violates federal civil rights.

"Transgender students who suffer academically are less likely to pursue a legal education, depriving the bar of voices capable of speaking on behalf of those marginalized for their gender," said ABA president Linda Klein of Baker Donelson wrote in the brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. "Moreover, their classmates who have become lawyers are left less able to empathize with, and to provide effective representation for, their transgender or gender-nonconforming clients."

The ABA’s brief were among more than a dozen filed May 15 in G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board. Baker & Hostetler filed a brief for 56 companies—including Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp., Twitter Inc., and Yahoo! Inc—in support of the Virginia teenager at the center of the challenge for greater protections. Eighteen state attorneys general also filed an amicus brief in support of the teenager. Several conservative and religious groups filed papers in opposition.

Use of Noncompete Clauses Grows Even as More States Move to Limit Them

Noncompete clauses in employment contracts can be risky, and even law firms that use them find themselves fighting over what the wording means and how legally restrictive the clauses can be.

Just ask Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) that recently found itself in a court battle with eight of 10 lawyers that White & Case hired away to open an office in Australia. The eight partners were subject to a noncompete clause at the firm that required six months' notice and restrained them from practicing as a partner at a competing firm for one year, according to sibling publication The Asian Lawyer.Herbert Smith Freehills sued the eight attorneys and reached a court settlement on May 2. The accord allowed the lawyers to join White & Case as of March 2, but not as partners until one year after their resignations last September.

Companies and law firms in the United States are increasingly inserting noncompete clauses into employment contracts, and sometimes for good reason: Such clauses can help protect trade secrets such as the recipe for a product, or other confidential information such as client lists.

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