Jeffery Baker will be sworn into the California State Bar just before 5 p.m. on Thursday evening by Alameda Superior Court Judge Gordon Baranco. Baker is being sworn into the bar 34 years after earning his law degree at the University of San Francisco, according to the Contra Costa Times.
“If that’s not a record for the longest time between graduating law school and passing the bar, it’s got to be close,” he said. Between the time he earned his degree and today he has gotten married, raised three children, worked as an insurance adjuster and took the bar exam anywhere from seven to eight times.
“I think I took it seven or eight times,” he said. “Let’s say it was eight.”
The first time he took the bar exam was in 1978, right after graduating from law school. He missed passing the test by one or two points of law. “I had put in so much time and effort,” he said. “I thought, ‘Well, I’ll take it again.’”
Baker has taken the bar exam three times in Sacramento, twice in Oakland, once at the Cow Palace and twice in San Mateo County. “I was never that far off,” he said. “It was maybe two issues on a particular exam. If I’d gotten two more issues right on any of those, I would have passed a long time ago.”
Baker said that the demanding format of the test remained the same each time he took it but what did change was the fresh faces and laptops being used in the exam room.
“I didn’t grow up with computers,” Baker said, “so I was one of those people who would handwrite their exam. Now, you see these young kids getting out of law school doing everything with a computer. The area for us writers kept getting smaller and smaller.”
In February of 2011, Baker passed for the first time but he was not notified of his passing score until a couple of months later. “I was surprised,” he said. “I thought, ‘Is that it? Did I miss something here?’”
Baker said that he began studying smarter instead of harder over the years. “When you look at all the facts, you need to understand which rule of law applies,” he said. “Then, it’s like a light bulb turning on.”
Baker and Baranco met while in junior high and then graduated from Oakland High School just two years apart, making them friends for quite a long time. Baker has said that he will not be switching careers even though he is being admitted to the bar.