The New York bar exam — “The Endless Summer”

“Not for your notes: Concept!”

In 1989, when I was still a contributing editor to the ABA’s Student Lawyer magazine, I wrote an article describing, in somewhat purple hues, the experience of preparing for the New York bar exam after I finished law school.  It was called “The Endless Summer.”

Much of the piece focused on the brilliant preparation course taught by John “Pieper People Pass” Pieper (particularly well suited to students from out of state law schools), and how I — uncharacteristically — completely deferred to someone who knew better than I did and was glad to have done so.

Someone eventually showed the article to John Pieper, and, in a fit of over-enthusiasm, someone in his organization just ran off a bazillion copies of the thing for use by the course.

That was copyright infringement, but, really, so what?

So.  I was a hungry married rabbinical student at the time.  (Yes, after law school but before starting work.  Long story.)  So when I learned about this, I asked the the publisher, ABA Press, to handle it, because it had responsibility for copyright filing for the magazine. (As was common in magazine writing in those days, at least, I sold the ABA Press only the right to first publication and, of course, retained copyright myself.)

I think I got a little money, and Pieper (the company) agreed to stop photocopying and distributing the work.

A lose-lose.  This time I should not have deferred, probably.

I lost what could have been a friendly relationship with John himself, and the chance to have thousands of people read the article, benefit from my experience and build some name recognition as a writer.  John lost a chance to benefit from the article and to allow his students to benefit from the article.  I got less than a month’s rent.

It was a dumb way to handle the situation, I didn’t know better, and I have been regretting it for over 20 years.  Time to make amends.

Here is the article again, right on time for bar review season.  (Here’s a PDF of how it appeared in the magazine.)

John, I’m sorry.  It was the wrong thing to do.  I was young and dumb.  And I probably really did need the $500 at the moment.

I’m sure everything’s changed with the bar exam and your course, but if there’s any use you want to make of this article, it’s yours for the copying, as long as you properly attribute it.  (Be careful with that!)

Stay cool, people!

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Ron Coleman

I write this blog.

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