Yesterday, Kim Kardashian posted to Instagram that she had passed the Baby Bar Exam in California. No shade here. This is a big deal.
It is true: The baby bar exam “is not easy” and it’s not something that can be handed out. Kardashian may have a lot of advantages when it comes to her ability to hire tutors to help with the exam, pay for Bar Bri Law School prep (I couldn’t afford Bar Bri), or nannies to help with the children while she studied (my wife passed while mothering a one-year-old), but Kim Kardashian does run an influencer empire, so it’s impressive that she managed to do this on top of a day job and a very public life. Despite all those advantages, there’s no way around putting in the hours necessary to absorb all the information necessary to pass the exam, and she learned it without the benefit of a law school education.
That’s because, in California (and three other states), there is an alternative to law school to becoming a lawyer. You can apprentice for four years with a law office or with a judge. This is how Abraham Lincoln became a lawyer. Kardashian is apprenticing with Jessica Jackson, the National Director of the Criminal Justice Advocacy Group #Cut50, and Erin Haney, the National Policy Director for #Cut50, a criminal justice reform office. That makes sense because Kardashian — who is the daughter of the late Robert Kardashian, who defended O.J. Simpson — is deeply invested in prison reform.
So, what is the baby bar exam? In California, those who seek to become an attorney through an apprentice program or at an unaccredited law school must take a baby bar exam after their first year of study. If they don’t pass after the third time (or the fourth time at the moment, because of COVID), then they will lose credit for any work completed beyond the first year. They still have to pass it to get credit for that first year, however.
Kardashian passed the baby bar on her fourth attempt (although she said when she took it a third time she was suffering from COVID symptoms). If she hadn’t have passed, then she’d have had to start all over for any work completed beyond the first year of her apprenticeship. Passing it, however, gives her credit for all the years worked since she began, and apparently sets her up to take the regular California Bar Exam in 2022.
Kardashian also noted that the baby bar has a “harder pass rate,” which is true, but it doesn’t mean that the exam is necessarily harder. The baby bar exam has a 21 percent pass rate, but the people who take the baby bar do not have the benefit of an education from an accredited law school. Meanwhile, California’s actual bar exam is one of the hardest in the nation — it has a pass rate of 53 percent — but almost all of those who take the CA bar exam also have the benefit of three years of legal education from an accredited law school. The passage rate for those in an apprenticeship, however, is about 1/3 of the passage rate for those who attend an accredited law school.
In other words, passing the baby bar is a huge accomplishment but Kardashian still has a daunting journey ahead of her and she still faces long odds when it comes to passing the bar exam.
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