Bar/Bri Class Action Suit


As the July California Bar Exam approaches in just a few days, I thought it was fitting that I received a class action notice regarding Bar/Bri in the mail today. I heard rumblings about this last summer as I was immersing myself in Bar/Bri's overpriced and ham-handed bar review course. It sounds like current bar studiers are eligible for the suit -- the class includes people who took a Bar/Bri Bar Review course between August 1997 and the present. The website for the class action suit is here:

The complaint (available at the website) basically alleges that Bar/Bri and Kaplan entered into a super-secret deal whereby Bar/Bri agreed not to offer LSAT prep courses and Kaplan agreed not to offer Bar Exam prep courses, thereby running afoul of Antitrust laws.

It'll be interesting to see how this comes out. I'll be sure and keep an eye out for my check for three cents or coupon for ten dollars off any GRE prep course.

One final thing: The class action suit is pending before Judge Real in the Central District of California. Judge Real's clerks very likely took Bar/Bri sometime in the last nine years. Can his clerks be class members? Hmm....


Judge Real can just have his externs work on the case -- but probably only 1Ls and only if they haven't pre-enrolled in BarBri. :)

I got my class action notice in the mail yesterday. Although I think anticompetitive conduct should be dealt with swiftly and harshly, I kind of feel bad being a class member since I'm pretty pleased with Bar/Bri and impressed with how much they managed to teach me in eight short weeks compared with how much (or at least how well) I learned about the same topics in the last three years. It may be that competitors that Bar/Bri bought up or colluded with to keep its monopoly would have caused prices to come down, but I think there's something to be said for its experience and the fact that what they teach is exactly what everyone is going to write for the exam so that's what the Bar examiners pretty much have to accept. While I'm kissing bar-prep ass, I'd like to give a shout out to PMBR for its flashcards and 300 questions per MBE subject... and giving me a $100 discount for being an ABA member. I wonder how much I'll get when Bar/Bri loses its class action and if I'll even care because I won't be totally and utterly broke by then (hopefully).

You can be pleased with the service without being pleased by how much you're paying for it. Besides, this suit isn't about Bar/Bri being a monopoly, it's about collusive behavior.

If Kaplan entered the Bar Prep market their approach wouldn't necessarily be different from Bar/Bri's (just like Bar/Bri's approach to the MBE isn't much different from PMBR's). It would just bring prices down, which is Good for America.

Also, good luck next week!

I just took the Illinois Bar Exam in Chicago. I must admit that Bar Bri made the experience easier. Even so, I agree with both assertions made so far: (1) Bar Bri does deliver a good product because they understand that the Bar Examiners want "magic words," not cogent analysis--Bar Bri effectively teaches students the "magic words" and how to regurgitate them under time pressure; and (2) Bar Bri should not be allowed to unfairly corner the Bar Review market.

Bar Bri's success comes from the fact that it teaches "bar exam law." Law students do not learn "bar exam law" in law school, so it has become essential to take a supplemental course in "bar exam law" before the bar exam. Bar Exam law is a fanciful body of inapplicable principles that only has relevance on the bar exam. Law school teaches students to think carefully about the law and its purposes; it also teaches discipline and concise expression in both speech and writing. All of these things are vital for practice. But they are useless in preparing for the bar exam. Bar Examiners do not want to know WHY rules exist; they just want to hear the rules.

Having said that, Bar Bri's product is not unique. Anyone can teach students the magic words necessary to make the bar exam doors open. Consequently, I think there should be greater competition in this market. Bar Bri's vaunted "method" is nothing more than rote memorization. Bar Bri is not the only entity that can teach students to write: "When a negotiable instrument is negotiated to a holder in due course, he takes free of personal defenses and claims; he is subject only to real defenses." Nor is Bar Bri the only entity that can teach students that voluntary intoxication may not be a defense to murder, but it is a defense to attempted murder.

I don't know anything about antitrust law. But I do know that graduating law students today feel literally compelled to take Bar Bri. Bar Bri has fully exploited this. I took out extra loans to pay the $3,000 they charge and I'm not the only one who did. So while I was pleased with Bar Bri's product, I think there should be greater competition for it.

I'll be following the case as it proceeds. I wonder if "King Richard" Convi$er will deign to engage in settlement discussions as the trial date approaches.

Benjamin makes a good point about bar study loans. If everyone who graduates takes out a standard amount of money to pay for Bar/Bri because everyone feels they have to take a course to learn what you need to become a practicing attorney but no one is taught in law school, then perhaps I should not only get part of my fee back from Bar/Bri for being able to set the price at $3400, but also some of the interest I'm going to have to pay on that private bar study loan I had to take to afford their course. That was a long sentence. I swear I was more diligent about sentence and paragraph brakes during the exam...

I worked for West Bar in 1997 when Thomson purchased West and put the bar review course out of business. I always thought that was pretty short-sighted, especially since in the Bay Area law schools we were really starting to gain a big market share among the younger classes (then classes of '98 and '99). It's funny to me that Thomson went ahead and bought BAR/BRI a few years later. Does smell very fishy.

Kristina, while your kissing PMBR's ass, please note they are owned by the same folks that own BarBri! It's called West Publishing dear.

PMBR is a privately owned company - definitely not owned by West Publishing.

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This page contains a single entry by hb published on July 20, 2006 6:50 PM.

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