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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I Have Some Concerns with Kaplan

It's that wonderful time of my life when I get to pay for a bar prep course. I'm going with Kaplan because they have an excellent deal for students who are interested in public interest work, and I am simply unable to afford BARBRI's outrageous cost. Following the link to Kaplan's website, I was confronted with this image:

Kaplan Beats BARBRI

While I am aware that Kaplan is not writing a brief or a law review article in presenting its website, I found its placement of the asterisk somewhat upsetting. After all, Rule 1.1(a) in the Bluebook states:

Citations to authorities that support (or contradict) a proposition made in the main text (as opposed to footnote text) are placed in footnotes. A footnote call number should appear at the end of a textual sentence if the cited authority supports (or contradicts) the entire sentence. In contrast, a call number should appear within the sentence next to the portion it supports if the cited authority supports (or contradicts) only that part of the sentence. The call number comes after any punctuation mark—such as a comma, semicolon, or period—with the exception of a dash or a colon. In addition to citation to authorities, a footnote may include textual sentences that are related to the main text to which the footnote is appended.
According to Rule 1.1(a), the asterisk should have appeared after the exclamation point rather than before it. Moreover, the footnote to which the asterisk led did not indicate when Kaplan had previously "beaten" BARBRI, nor did the footnote tell us what "beat" meant. The only footnote on the page simply stated:

*Test names and other trademarks are the property of the respective trademark holders. None of the trademark holders are affiliated with Kaplan or this website.

Sorry. I left the original formatting there. Here's another go:
*Test names and other trademarks are the property of the respective trademark holders. None of the trademark holders are affiliated with Kaplan or this website.
Oddly, since Kaplan's name appears in the same sentence that is footnoted, Kaplan seems to be indicating that it does not hold the trademark over the name "Kaplan." That seems to be a very strange thing for Kaplan to say. An alternate reading would be that Kaplan is trying to say that any trademark over BARBRI belongs to BARBRI and not Kaplan. So it would seem that putting the asterisk right after "BARBRI" would be a much more sensible placement for purposes of the trademark disclaimer. And this would be an excellent way for Kaplan to highlight the "surprising" part of Bluebook Rule 1.1(a), which states that the one exception to the rule that the call number for a footnote follow a punctuation mark is a dash.

Looking into the website a bit further indicates that the footnote actually indicates how Kaplan did indeed "beat" BARBRI, but to get to that footnote, one has to follow the link (containing the asterisk) to this page. This makes the overall website a little less upsetting, although it is odd to have one webpage containing an asterisk that refers to a footnote on a completely different webpage.

This post may seem a bit ornery, and it may be bad karma for me to criticize the company that will hopefully help me survive the bar exam. But when I logged into my "account" page (using a password-recovery tool activated by entering my email address, since I had not yet received a password), my account page greeted me with the heading, "Michael's Account," and then indicated that my name was "Michelle Smith," that I had an Iowa City zip code, and that my email address was something that began with the text: "dancergirl. This is extremely strange, since the email address I used to access the page in the first place was my own email address, which, last I checked, does not begin with the text, "dancergirl." Even more strangely, all of this incorrect information was accompanied by a correct listing of my phone number.

In light of this series of mishaps, I think that I am allowed to express some discontent with Kaplan's website. I can only hope that I won't need to Shepardize the materials that I eventually receive from them.


After calling Kaplan, I have sorted out my identity. There appeared to have been an error in my username, with the "50" on my written application for the course being translated into a "15" in their records. While my profile information is straightened out now, they are not sure how I ended up with Michelle's identity.

Also, several of my dear, sweet colleagues at UCLA Law have told me that my post contains incorrect facts. In particular, they assure me that my email address does, in fact, begin with the text, "dancergirl." I have done some investigation into these concerns, and I can confirm with certainty that my email address does not contain the phrase, "dancergirl."

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