The Bar Exam in Germany

September 1, 2004

With many American bar exam passage rates hovering between 75 and 85%, we can at least be glad that we can take the exam as many times as we need to in order to pass. True, career chances in the best law firms might be destroyed by repeated bar exam failure (although most firms allow you to retake the bar if you fail it the first time, it seems like failing it once could still threaten your chances at partnership).

I just read that in Germany, if you fail twice, you are prohibited by law from taking the bar exam a third time. That means that if you fail twice, you have no chance of becoming a lawyer, judge, or prosecutor–ever. This is harsh and even necessitates a social service to help such applicants cope with the idea that between four and seven years of university study in the field of law has been a waste. This is an important service considering that 31% of applicants who took the Staatsexamen for the first time this year in Bavaria failed.