It’s compulsory for all CDTA students to take the California First-Year Law Students (FYLSX), also referred to as the California “Baby Bar” Exam. The exam includes multiple-choice and essay-type questions and is administered over a single day. Any law student who has successfully completed their first year of legal studies can apply for the California Baby Bar.
The California Baby Bar is administered in San Francisco and Los Angeles in June and October of each year. Anyone who takes the exam is required to complete 100 multiple-choice questions in three hours and four essay questions in four hours.
Rule 4.31 of the Admissions Rules and the Business and Professions Code governs the exam. Rule 4.31 stipulates that an applicant required to pass the exam won’t be assigned any law study credit until they have passed. Once an applicant is considered eligible for the exam, they are required to pass one of the first three consecutive test administrations. Should they pass after those three administrations, they will only be assigned credit for their first year of law study.
The California Baby Bar takes three subsections into account: Criminal Law, Contracts, and Torts. There is no need to show detailed knowledge of California law, and it’s perfectly fine to answer questions based on legal principles and theories of general applicability. The Uniform Commercial Code’s first two articles should be used where relevant.
The score for the multiple-choice questions is based on the number of correct answers provided by the applicant. Through the “equating” process, the multiple-choice scores are converted into a scale, which is assigned a theoretical 400 maximum points. The assigned grade for an essay question ranges from 40-100. Total essay scores, therefore, range from 160-400 points.
The total score is the combined number of points achieved from the essay and multiple-choice questions, so equivalent weight is assigned to each of these sections in awarding the total score. In order to pass the exam, an applicant is required to achieve a minimum of 560 points. The results from the June exam are released in August, and the October exam results are released in December.
While California is the only state currently employing this system, it is likely that other states will adopt it in time, especially in those larger markets with low Bar pass rates and numerous law schools. Only students enrolled in a “registered” law school are required to take the exam. Those attending a CBE- or ABA-accredited school aren’t asked to take the test. A registered law school is often a distance/corresponding or a new school.
The California Baby Bar exam is one of a number of stops that must be achieved on the way to becoming a lawyer. Along the way, an aspiring lawyer will need to choose from elective courses, seek out internships, and find their first job. However, the Baby bar exam is one of the earliest steps and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Students should prepare with an online course and additional study they can fit into their schedule in advance in order to give themselves the best possible chance of success.
I took the baby bar two years ago and passed. I think the ABA should be replaced with each state mandating the baby bar and allowing for reciprocity.