Monday, September 26, 2011

They ID you before you can get in the bar

I don't know if I have purposefully blocked out all memories of my previous bar exam, but I don't recall having to be fingerprinted before taking the exam.  I can understand having to show identification, because otherwise, I'm sure there would be a travelling troupe of bar exam takers that would sit in for the exam for you for a nominal (or expensive) fee.  The Board of Bar Examiners wants to be sure that you are who you claim you are.

But going as far as gathering your fingerprints sounds a bit too...suspicious?  Are they going to run my prints against a large database from the FBI, CIA, NSA, DHS, DMV, ad infinitum?  They already did ask me tons of private questions regarding my background and past criminal activity.  I guess no one wants to take a lawyer at his word.

The process to submit one's fingerprints seem to have advanced quite a bit since the last time I've had the dubious pleasure of having my prints taken.  No, it wasn't anything suspicious, just routine data gathering by the government of the great state of California for business purposes.  This time around, I had to set up an appointment online.  At the appointed hour, I went to the local facility, which in my case happened to be a UPS store, and there the friendly clerk will ask you to wipe your hands with a towelette moistened with some type of foamy solution.  Then he proceeds to press your fingers on a small scanner, and you can even see your fingerprints being scanned in real time on the computer monitor.  If there are any errors, the machine beeps, and you have that particular finger or combination of fingers re-scanned.  Fast, painless, and thankfully, ink free.

Now that my fingerprints have been submitted, I have officially completed my bar exam application.  I'm sure I'll be hearing from the Board of Bar Examiners about this or that piece of information that is missing from my file, but overall, I'm hopeful that all the preliminary paperwork is done, and they will allow me to seat at the exam come February.  If I'm lucky, the exam itself won't be as complicated as the application process.

Update: In light of the recent SAT cheating scandal in New York, where an Emory University student was paid to take the state in place of high school students, maybe fingerprint and ID checking is not such a bad idea.

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