News & Events

Posted July 9, 2009
Summer Research

Kyle Smith '11: Fair Bar Exam Cuts, Divorce and Embryos


Professor Alex Johnson is a busy man and — much to my delight — has made my summer extraordinarily busy and interesting. He has engaged me in a multitude of tasks on many of his projects, including finalizing an article discussing "knots in the pipeline" of African-American lawyers and providing initial research to be used for an article on disputes over frozen embryos arising upon divorce.

Professor Johnson has continued his extensive work on critical race theory by writing an article evaluating what causes African-Americans to be underrepresented in the legal profession and possible solutions for increasing their representation. For his latest article, Professor Johnson tasked me with researching the historical and current debate over the efficacy of state-administered bar examinations, which are used in lieu of a uniform national bar exam. Upon reviewing my research, Professor Johnson has asserted that although the Constitution protects states' rights to regulate entry to their bar examinations, state bars would be better served in the laudable goal of increasing diversity amongst their members by using a uniform cut score for the existing multistate bar examination. The current bar examination structure restricts the flow of African-Americans into the legal profession because African-Americans take the bar exam in states with more difficult passing cut scores. Differing cut scores are supported by little or no empirical evidence and thus prove to be a needless source of constriction into the legal profession that disproportionately restricts minorities' entry to the legal profession.

Additionally, Professor Johnson has continued his work in the field of property law by preparing for an article on frozen embryo disputes arising out of divorce. These disputes typically happen when married couples undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF) and for cost or health reasons cryogenically preserve for future use any embryos not implanted at the time IVF is undertaken. Upon divorce, disputes arise when one party desires against the wish of the other to mandate that the frozen embryos be implanted, donated, indefinitely preserved, or disposed. I provided Professor Johnson with extensive background research on the topic, including both a full literature survey and review of case law addressing the subject, as he has undertaken an article on the topic discussing a contractual approach to resolving such disputes against the backdrop of public policy concerns arising out of such a solution.

More Summer Work