The 2012 bar exam: a storm, a wood chipper and (maybe) a rat
Power was off for 45 minutes, raising the possibility of a partial do-over
Updated: 12:08 p.m.
Here’s one question bar prep didn’t address: When the power goes out during the afternoon session and you’re in the middle of completing an essay on your laptop, what is the appropriate response?
Answer: Keep calm and sweat. Also, be prepared for a possible repeat of part of the test.
Seeing the lights go out, watching your computer battery drain and hearing the AC sputter to a stop on a 90-plus-degree day while surrounded by hundreds of emotionally fragile would-be fellow attorneys doesn’t exactly bolster concentration. But that’s what hopeful North Carolina lawyers faced earlier this week when storm winds led to the loss of electricity at the bar exam site, the massive Jim Graham Building at the State Fairgrounds. Fred Parker, executive director of the North Carolina Board of Law Examiners, which administers the exam, said the outage lasted for about 45 minutes, and those minutes were allotted to the test takers when the power returned.
“Nobody lost time,” he said.
But some test-takers had more time than others. People whose laptop batteries lasted through the outage — as well as those sitting in sections of the building where the emergency lights came on and those writing by hand — could have continued working on their essays. But people with laptops which needed to be plugged in were idle.
James Van Camp, chairman of the N.C. Board of Law Examiners, said the situation raises a fairness issue. The question is what to do for test-takers who had less time than others, he said.
“We’re going to have to come up with a solution to make sure that there’s absolute fairness in the process,” Van Camp said.
He addressed the test group on Wednesday morning, when the second day of the exam started, to tell them the board is considering its options.
“I promised the folks that we would not have them take the whole exam again,” Van Camp said. “I got cheers for that.”
But there’s a possibility the board would require them to retake the portion of the test administered on Tuesday afternoon.
“That’s obviously an option,” Van Camp said
The board will hold a special meeting on Friday, Aug. 3 to decide.
Parker, who has been board’s executive director for 39 years, said the exam site moved to the fairgrounds from downtown several years ago. A record number of test takers (1,217) sat for this year’s bar, and Parker estimates that about 80 percent of them used laptops to answer essay questions.
The bad mojo spilled into the exam’s second day, when the loud, mechanical whir of lumber being crunched on a property near the fairgrounds permeated part of the building. And there was one unconfirmed Twitter report of a rodent being spotted inside.
Published: July 26, 2012
Time posted: 10:26 am
Tags: Bar Exam