Across the country, thousands of future lawyers recently finished taking the two-day law licensing exam, known as the bar exam. Bar exams exist to protect the public from incompetent lawyers—but do they?

Some experts argue that current bar exams fail to protect the public because they test a small subset of lawyering skills, and test those skills in ways unrelated to law practice.

“The public should be concerned about these law licensing exams because those who pass are not necessarily equipped to represent clients, and those who fail may be perfectly competent lawyers who simply are not good multiple choice test takers or who cannot answer complex legal questions in less than two minutes per question,” said Andrea Curcio, professor of law at the Georgia State University College of Law.

Curcio is available directly at [email protected]. Her mobile contact is available in the contact box on this screen, visible to logged-in registrants of the Newswise system. For further assistance in contacting Curcio by cell, contact Stacey Evans at 404-413-9259 or Jeremy Craig at 404-413-1374.

For decades, some academics have called for bar exam reform but little has happened. In part, the lack of reform has been based upon the belief that although the existing bar exam may not be perfect, it is the best that can be done.  

However, Curcio notes, licensing processes in other countries suggest that there are ways to develop a lawyer licensing exam that better protects the public from incompetent lawyers.

Curcio has written and researched extensively on law school assessment and the bar exam. Read her bio and view some of her works at