Michigan Bar Exam Results – Clerical Error Led to Score Report Mistakes for 17 Bar Exam Takers
Alexis Smith-Scott, a Wayne State University Law School graduate and JD Advising course student, received inaccurate information that she failed the February 2021 Michigan bar exam.
- First, her seat number was not on the bar exam pass list, released by the Board. She got this bad news as she was on vacation in New York celebrating Mother’s Day with her family. This was terrible news to receive.
- Secondly, Alexis called the Board to confirm that she failed the bar exam. They confirmed that she did in fact, fail the bar exam.
- Third, Alexis’s name was not on the initial list of names of applicants who passed the bar exam.
- Lastly, Alexis received an official score report stating that she received a failing bar exam score. She would have to take the bar exam again.
Note that this was not just a seat number mix-up. Examinees received official score reports stating that they had failed the bar exam, as well as a complete score report.
Alexis handled it with nothing but grace. Alexis contacted us at JD Advising for the next steps. She also immediately told her employer, who offered complete support and offered to pay for appealing, the cost to retake the bar exam, additional time off, and more.
Unbeknownst to Alexis, a clerical error resulted in results being transposed for 17 persons with the same last names. (Note: All 17 candidates were notified of the error.)
Of the 17 people:
- 7 were notified that they passed and the score correction did not change that passing status.
- 7 were notified that they failed and the score correction did not change that failing status.
- 3 were notified that they failed and the score correction changed their overall status to passing.
- In sum, 7 of the 17 failed, while 10 passed.
Alexis was one of the three examinees who were told they failed–but had actually passed the bar exam.
Soon after accepting the fact that she would have to retake the bar exam, Alexis was walking through the park when she got a call from Michigan Supreme Court Justice, Brian Zahra. Justice Zahra told her that 17 examinees were affected by a clerical error. Justice Zahra gave her the great news that she actually passed the bar exam.
Justice Zahra then called Alexis’s firm, with Alexis on the phone, to notify her firm that she actually passed the bar exam. This would seem like a prank or a joke to most. However, Alexis did indeed receive an official score report (with very different scores).
While the Michigan Board of Law Examiners made a mistake – one that no doubt caused grief and trauma—to the Board’s credit, they did act with integrity to take immediate remedial measures after discovering the error. These measures included publicly admitting their mistake, personally calling affected applicants, and modifying the list of passing examinees on its website to include the names of the three new examinees that actually, in fact, passed the bar exam.
The error was discovered during the appeals process.
We have not ever heard of a mistake of this magnitude to have occurred. (Some states have had seat number mix-ups, which would be more expected. But in this case, actual “official” scores were reported incorrectly to 17 applicants.)
We feel terrible for the 17 examinees who were put through a rollercoaster of emotions, even after receiving official results. Alexis ended up with great news, but only after enduring almost two weeks of believing she failed the bar exam. However, other applicants were affected as well. One examinee emailed us after the fact, now finding out they had appealable scores (where initially, they did not). Another truly believed they had appealable scores and then ended up with non-appealable scores once their correct results were given to them. This is a very unfortunate situation for examinees to be in and we feel terrible for these examinees.
Note that all 17 affected examinees were contacted. So, if you are an examinee who failed the Michigan bar exam and you were not contacted, this mix-up did not affect you.
As for Alexis, she is planning to have a large swearing-in ceremony at Wayne State University Law School. Justice Zahra will swear her in.
Note: corrections added to post on 5/22/21.
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