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Bar News - August 17, 2001

Scenes from the Bar Exam Summer 2001


SINGLY, OR BY twos and threes, they trickled into the Legislative Office Building on a sunny summer morning before 8 a.m. on July 25. Although these law students were dressed casually for the summer heat, the occasion was anything but casual: It was day one of the two-day rite of passage (or ordeal) known as the New Hampshire Bar Exam.

The 159 prospective NH Bar members were subdued. There was nervous joking: "The lambs going to slaughter," quipped one as he took his place in line in the dark hallway to register for the first day. Another recoiled when she realized her assigned seat in the front row put her uncomfortably face-to-face with the all-important clock. For the multiple-choice, multi-state exam, most test-takers carried very little with them – a fistful of freshly sharpened pencils, pencil sharpeners, energy bars, nicotine gum and omnipresent bottles of water (no bottles of memory-boosting ginseng tonic were spotted). A pregnant Bar candidate brought her own pillow. One well-prepared test-taker placed a small stuffed duck – as a lucky charm – and earplugs on his table.

According to Supreme Court Clerk Howard J. Zibel, NH’s test-takers benefit from the "Cadillac of test-taking sites" – air conditioning, padded leather chairs and large tables. It’s a far cry from the un-air conditioned elementary school gymnasium where Zibel took his exam 25 years ago. Zibel urged the prospective lawyers to thank their local representative or senator for use of the facility.

Zibel and Frederick J. Coolbroth, chair of the Board of Bar Examiners – the committee that writes and grades the essay questions on the NH portion of the exam – both offered tips for completing the exam. Zibel’s advice included treating the clock "as your friend" to pace test-takers, so they would attempt answers to all of the questions on both days. Coolbroth’s key advice for the essay-portion of the exam was to "pay attention to the question that’s asked." Although points aren’t awarded for graceful penmanship, legibility is necessary, he added.

The list of those who passed the Bar will be posted on the courts’ Web site at at 9 a.m. on Sept. 21.

If you are in doubt about the status of any meeting, please call the Bar Center at 603-224-6942 before you head out.

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