Lower the bar: words of distraction for aspiring Jewish lawyers


Taking the bar exam tomorrow? Looking for encouragement? Here are a few quick distractions to cool your nerves and reassure you about your career path decision.

No guarantees, of course. 


  • Stereotypes about Jews in the legal profession are a sensitive matter, as CBS learned in 1971: 

"’All in the Family,’ which premiered in January, centers on Archie bunker, (played by Carroll O’Connor) a blue-collar worker who spews racial and religious prejudices, complete with ethnic epithets, and gets his comeuppance at the end of each episode. In one episode, Archie excoriated a Jewish woman for allegedly ramming his car (‘They’re all the same, them people!’), then sought a Jewish lawyer to represent him because ‘they’re smarter and shrewder.’

Arnold Forster, general counsel to the ADL, considers the series a "reinforcement" of stereotypes, and Whitney M. Young Jr., the late executive director of the National Urban League, had described the show as similar to ‘Amos ‘n’ Andy…’"

    Of course, the show was renewed that season and the "Jew lawyer" comments would return in a later episode.

  • As a lawyer, if anyone attempts to slander you, rest assured that someone’s got your back. And not just the ADL. After all, a Jewish lawyer wrote the book on libel (in the state of New York). 

  • Occasionally, Jewish students taking the bar face an initial scheduling hurdle, like when the test is slated for a Jewish holiday or even a fast day. For the traditionally-inclined, be thankful this wasn’t your first appeal.
  • If none of these disjointed remarks are enough to keep you calm, you might be interested to know that in 1925, about one-half of those who passed the New York State bar were Jewish; the following year in Illinois, nearly one-third of bar-passers were Jewish.

Good Luck!

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