Like Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, Kamala Harris Failed Bar Exam on First Try

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On Tuesday Joe Biden chose California Senator Kamala Harris as his Vice President nominee.

Politico reported:

Joe Biden has selected Sen. Kamala Harris to be his running mate, elevating a charismatic blue-state senator, former prosecutor and onetime 2020 primary rival who has built a reputation as an unyielding antagonist of the Trump administration.

Harris, the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, was the wire-to-wire frontrunner for Biden’s No. 2 job. Her experience as a battle-tested presidential contender, her efforts leading major law enforcement offices and her political track record of three election wins in California helped her overcome a crowded list of contenders.

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Biden also made the announcement on his official Twitter account.

What will not make any headlines is the fact that Kamala Harris, like Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton, failed the bar exam on the first try.
ABAforLawStudents reported:

A number of users on social media have pointed out that Harris failed the California bar exam on her first try.

Granted, that footnote is a fairly common talking point in profiles of Harris. And to be fair, we’ve mentioned this footnote as well – back in March, when Samuel Chang included this quote in his article on how the decline of bar exam passage rates impacts law students:

If U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, former Dean of Stanford Law School Kathleen Sullivan, and two California Governors Jerry Brown and Pete Wilson could not pass on their first try but were widely successful as California’s attorney general, a top law school dean, and governors of our great state, what does that say of the bar?

Let’s ask that question again: What, exactly, does that say?

There are many higher profile examples of bar failures to add to these four Californians:


  • Hillary Clinton, also a former Senator, first lady, and presidential candidate (and only slightly connected with the topic of the recent Senate hearings), failed to pass the District of Columbia bar exam in 1973, the same year she passed the bar in Arkansas.
  • First Lady Michelle Obama failed the Illinois exam.
  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt failed the New York bar, passed it in 1907, and then dropped out of Columbia Law School (though he was posthumously given a J.D.).

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