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Thursday, December 20, 2018

Recent Gould grads reunite to celebrate passing the bar exam 

By Anne Bergman 

They’ve rejoiced at commencement and kept in touch over the past few months. But for members of the USC Gould School of Law’s class of 2018, the best possible reunion was to be formally sworn into the California and federal bars with their classmates. Together, they celebrated passing the notoriously challenging California bar exam.
Being sworn into the federal bar by Judge Rosenbluth, a former colleague, “was a wonderful bonus” for Prof. Dan Klerman.

In a ceremony held on December 11, Dean Andrew Guzman welcomed the recent graduates, their families and friends back to campus to the annual year-end ritual. From here on, they are official members of the legal profession.
 
“Passing the bar is no easy task. Each of you has not only proven that you possess a thorough knowledge and understanding of the law, but also the self-discipline and motivation to become attorneys,” said Dean Guzman in his opening remarks. 
 
“You should be exceptionally proud of what you achieved — because this year was the lowest bar pass rate statewide in nearly 70 years,” he added.
 
And as if the evening wasn’t memorable enough, Prof. Dan Klerman, the Edward G. Lewis Chair in Law and History, who passed the California bar this summer, was also sworn in alongside Gould graduates.
 
“I’ve been teaching and writing about civil procedure for many years, and I started thinking that I had taken (and passed) the Illinois bar when I graduated law school, but that wasn’t very useful if I wanted to practice in California,” he said. Klerman added that he took the exam so he could “be both a better teacher and a better scholar” by being able to take depositions, write or respond to some motions, and perhaps try a case.  
 
Student Bar Association President Janet Shamilian, serving as bailiff, convened the ceremony. The Hon. Jean Rosenbluth (JD 1993), Magistrate Judge in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, offered words of advice to the nearly 100 alumni awaiting their rite of passage.
 
Rosenbluth, who was a member of USC Gould’s faculty and led the school’s Legal Writing Program, reminded the new lawyers “to stay humble. As a lawyer, you are ethically and morally bound to always do your best, work your hardest, put in those extra hours, suck it up, no matter what it is,” she said.
 
Jonathan Acheampong Frimpong (center) said The ceremony “was a priceless moment for all of us. The look on my friends' faces said it all. They were all glowing, which I believe was a reflection of the joy we felt inside.” View all of the photos.
The Hon. Michael J. Raphael, Associate Justice from the California Court of Appeal, also offered key advice. Raphael, taught at Gould and has often returned to campus to preside over Moot Court competitions. In his remarks he highlighted how the new lawyers should be mindful of how they—and the rule of law —are perceived by the public. 
 
“For your role in upholding the rule of law, your most important audience won’t be a judge,” he said. “Your most important audience will be members of the public, including clients, witnesses and adversaries. When a member of the public has a negative experience with a lawyer, it reflects poorly on the rule of law.”
 
While the exam is considered one of the toughest in the nation, the recent Gould graduates who passed the bar attributed their success to the preparation they received from the law school.
 
 “I believe Gould’s teaching process, which involves critical thinking skills and not just mere memorization and regurgitation of the law, were crucial for preparing for the bar,” said Ariel Brotman (JD 2018). 
 
Brotman, an associate in Freeman Mathis & Gary's Los Angeles office, added, “The moment I found out I passed was one of the happiest moments of my life. Getting to tell my friends and family and seeing how proud they were of me was also an amazing feeling.”
 
For Jonathan Acheampong Frimpong (JD 2018), who is from Ghana, preparation for the exam included courses “tailored to meet the needs of students with English as a second language.”
 
Frimpong, now a junior associate at Dapeer Rosenblit Litvak in L.A., also took advantage of Gould’s faculty expertise
Gould grads celebrate a rite of passage.
and accessibility. “I was that kid with all those questions in class and during office hours, and the professors patiently explained the materials and answered all my questions,” he said.
 
Prof. Klerman gave himself two weeks to prepare and adhered to the advice he gives to his students. “I tell them that the best way to learn a subject is to do practice problems, so that’s what I did for the multistate portion of the exam,” he said.
 
While he could have been sworn in by many other means, Klerman said that he chose to be sworn in at the Gould School because “I thought it would be the most fun to attend the ceremony with my former students.  Being sworn into the federal bar by Judge Rosenbluth, a former colleague, was a wonderful bonus.”
 
The ceremony “was a priceless moment for all of us,” said Frimpong. “The look on my friends' faces said it all. They were all glowing, which I believe was a reflection of the joy we felt inside.”

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