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Why Was Former Stanford Law School Dean Kathleen Sullivan Failed on the California Experienced Attorney Bar Exam?

Notwithstanding that the California licensing test for experienced attorneys is graded in an assembly line and not a valid or reliable test, and two out of three experienced attorneys are routinely failed on the July bar exam, (see previous post), the question naturally arises: How could former Stanford Law School Dean Kathleen Sullivan, the author of a textbook on Constitutional Law and one of the most skilled advocates in America, be failed on this entry level licensing test? The answer lies in what scientists have termed “inattentional blindness.” A taped study at Harvard University demonstrates “inattentional blindness.” There were two teams of basketball players, one wearing blue and one white, throwing the ball to each other. Participants were asked to count the passes from team members to each other. A man in a gorilla costume walked into the middle of the action, brushing shoulders with the players, turned directly toward the camera, beat his chest, and slowly walked off the Court. The study showed that more than fifty percent of the participants in the study were so absorbed in counting the passes they did not see the gorilla in their midst. Afterwards, when the participants watched the tape again, they were so surprised when the gorilla was pointed out to them that many of them accused the experimenters of having doctored the tape between viewings.1 The bar exam graders are paying attention to entry level signs, and experienced attorneys, like former Stanford Law School Dean Kathleen Sullivan who was failed on the exam, is a gorilla in their midst.


Kathleen Sullivan

Permanent Link: Why Was Former Stanford Law School Dean Kathleen Sullivan Failed on the California Experienced Attorney Bar Exam?



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