Princess Mako’s husband Kei Komuro didn’t pass the New York bar exam

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Japan’s Princess Mako and Kei Komuro got married last week. It was a lowkey affair and their parents didn’t even attend the wedding. After the civil service, Kei and Mako went to a conference room they had rented themselves, and they gave a press conference about their future plans. Their plans involve moving to New York, where Kei already has a job lined up with a law firm, and Mako has plans to find work too. They will rent a one-bedroom apartment and just hope that their move dials down the drama. Except there will be more drama: Kei did not pass the New York Bar exam. Only about 63% of people passed this year’s New York bar.

Princess Mako’s new husband Komuri Kei has failed his New York State bar exam, with the results released days after the couple married. Mako, 30, the eldest daughter of Crown Prince Fumihito and niece of reigning Emperor Naruhito, tied the knot with university sweetheart Kei Komuro, a commoner, in Tokyo last week after an eight-year engagement.

The couple are planning to move into an apartment together in Tokyo before moving to the U.S. and living in New York City where Komuro works as a lawyer at the New-Jersey based law firm Lowenstein Sandler LLP.

Mako declined the offer of 140million yen (£890,000) payment to which she was entitled for leaving the imperial family, palace officials said, and is expected to find a job in New York.

Komuro phoned lawyer Okuno Yoshihiko, the head of a firm in Japan where Komuro once worked, to tell him he failed the New York State Bar Association exam on Saturday, according to Japanese broadcaster NHK. Komuro took the exam earlier this summer, with the exam results were posted on the website of the New York State Board of Law Examiners on Friday. His name was not amoung the successful candidates.

According to the broadcaster, Komuro has said he plans to continue studying and will retake the exams in February. Meanwhile Mako has said she will continue to support her husband’s studies.

Polls show that up to 80 per cent of Japanese oppose the marriage that took place with none of the usual pomp and ceremony in a register office in Tokyo.

[From The Daily Mail]

Yeah, you can retake (and retake) the bar until you pass. John F. Kennedy Jr. failed the bar twice but he finally passed the third time. You can also still work at a law firm and work on cases before you pass the bar – depending on the state, you would likely just not be able to argue cases if you haven’t passed. Anyway, it’s embarrassing for Kei but it shouldn’t deter their move or their plans. I still say that Mako should have taken the money though!

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73 Responses to “Princess Mako’s husband Kei Komuro didn’t pass the New York bar exam”

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  1. MarcelMarcel says:

    I can understand why Mako didn’t take the money. Any money would come with strings attached in that situation. I can totally understand how it would feel better to just cut the cord entirely. She endured a decade of negative commentary about her relationship & she’s still getting flack for it. It might feel really empowering for her to know that her and her husband will make it on their own. If she took the money there’d always be an implication that she needed that financial aid to make it in the civilian world. I’d also totally respect Mako if she took the money of course!

    Hopefully Kei passes the next bar exam. I hope Mako finds a job in NYC that she enjoys. She’s been amazingly resilient. I just want all the best for her and I hope she has loving friends to support her & Kei.

    • Emily says:

      Not taking the money makes me think of Harry and Meghan paying back the Frogmore money. It means that there aren’t any perceived debts hanging over their heads.

      • Theothermia says:

        Yeah it does have Frogmore money vibes like, they want to be totally clear and free

      • Eleonor says:

        I thought to Harry and Meghan too.
        The only thing I have learned is if you are a royal quitting the family is more similar to escape the Mafia than quitting a job.

    • CherHorowitz says:

      Sometimes money just isn’t worth the strings. People used to think it odd I didn’t go after my daughter’s bio dad for child support. Why on earth would I want to take any money from an abusive man and have him feel like I owe him something?! I literally didnt want his money and I certainly didn’t want anything remotely resembling interaction with him. Not exactly the same situation but the sentiment is very similar

  2. truthSF says:

    Of course the daily fail would jump on the next royals to walk away from royal life to forge their own path, and over-exaggerate a small hiccup that 47% experience as a total failure for the couple! They’re so threatened by anyone seeking independence from royal life, because thy know that that will help the abolish the monarchy argument. And without a British monarchy, what do these tabloids have to boast as being better than other countries? Nothing!!

    • superashes says:

      I can’t imagine it would be easy to pass the bar under these conditions. Most folks need to take three months off and use what amounts to a basically full-time job study schedule to pass on the first try. These guys were dealing with all this other mess.

  3. Becks1 says:

    As a lawyer, I have nothing but sympathy for him. The moment before I knew I passed the bar (in my state when you’re searching a huge grid with a number on it and hoping you’re looking up the right number to see if it says “pass” or “fail” next to it) was one of the most stressful in my life. And I did not take the NY bar. My state’s bar is hard but it’s not New York’s. I’m sure he’ll pass in February .

    And yes, lots of Big Law firms (which is where I assume he is working) have clauses like “you have 18 months to pass the bar” or something (or at least they did back in my day), so he’s still going to have his job presumably.

    • Mia4s says:

      Totally agree, this headline made my stomach clench. I passed the Bar on my first try (not in New York, which is notoriously rough) and seeing that “Pass” felt like a ten ton weight lifted off my shoulders. I have huge admiration for those who had to pick themselves up and try it again, it is a LOT.

    • Noki says:

      Is it public record ? Are the names registered too or its just a number. I am sure its already stressful without adding peoples names so that everyone can see whether an individual passed or not.

      • Becks1 says:

        For my state, it was just numbers, and you had your number from when you took the bar, but I think at the time NYS posted actual names. They may not do that anymore, it sounds like the press learned about this from the person he told?

      • Enny says:

        In New York you find out whether you pass from looking up your information in an online database. But New York also publishes a list of those who PASS in the New York Law Journal. What is unfortunate for those who are somewhat famous is that it can be glaringly obvious if their names aren’t there…

      • Liz says:

        Yes, it’s public record. When I took the NYS Bar (sometime in the last century, aka – the Stone Ages), the list of who passed was printed in the New York Law Journal. The day it was published everyone grabbed it to see which of their classmates’ names were missing.

        You also got a letter (a real mailed piece of paper) telling you if you passed or failed and what to do next – register for the next exam or start assembling a mountain of paperwork. I passed, but I had a few friends who had to take it a second or third time.

      • Grant says:

        I’m a Texas lawyer and when the pass list gets released, it’s literally a list of names of every participant who passed, available on the State Bar of Texas website. So by process of elimination, it’s very easy to see who did not make that list, i.e., who did not pass.

      • superashes says:

        When I took it in Maryland I think it was public. I’ll never forget waiting on the website to upload. I was working at a boutique Fifth Street firm in DC (if you practice law here then you know…), and my assistant and a paralegal and were in my office with me while I anxiously waited for the website to upload. Then all three of us were just sitting there scrolling down and we got to my line and it said “Pass” and we all just screamed at the same time. One of my favorite legal memories.

    • C-Shell says:

      I, too, had a blood pressure spike reading this. When I took the VA bar *coughtoomanyyearsagocough*, only 49% passed. We were told that if we passed we would get the letter notifying us in a normal #10 envelope; if we failed, it would be a large manila envelope with all the forms to apply to retake the exam. When I got the normal envelope, I was afraid to open it. The NY bar is, of course, notoriously tough and with the amount of stress these two have been under for years, I can imagine his head space when he took the exam might not have been where it needed to be. Having taken positive action to get on with their future together will help tremendously when he retakes the exam in February.

      • Noki says:

        Excuse my ignorance,why are other states bar exams tougher? I mean the law is the law right? Why are they different or in bigger cities you find more intricate matters?

      • MsIam says:

        Laws can vary from state to state so each state has its own licensing board. Federal laws are the same in all 50 states.

      • Liz says:

        @Noki – Federal law is the same across the country – Copyright law is the same everywhere in the US. But each State has its own laws, too – criminal law, water rights, lien laws, etc. The Bar exams test on each individual state’s laws, so you only take the Bar in the states where you know you will be living/working.

        Some state Bar exams (New York & California) are notoriously difficult.

      • Becks1 says:

        It’s not just about the actual law, its also about the structure of the test and how many days it is. For example, my state (MD) has one day for the state portion of the exam, and it was all short answer, and then you have the federal portion, also called the multi-state (which at the time was all multiple choice). But some states have their state portion set up differently (the short answers were hard bc there are a lot of them and you have to KNOW the material pretty cold to get your answers written in time, but some states have longer essays etc.) And some states have a two-day state portion (I think Texas and California are this way.) So the exam is 3 days, whereas for me it was only two days.

        So its not just about “the law” being harder – its more about the structure of the test and what it covers etc.

      • Lawyergal says:

        You’re also graded relative to the other people taking the test, and NYC is where all the top grads flock from all over the country for a few years at least. Something like 90% of my non-NY Ivy wound up in BigLaw in NYC. It’s a very intense sample size of lawyers and most of us are trained to take US standardized tests our whole life, unlike Kei.

      • Sankay says:

        Wouldn’t also be difficult because it’s not in is native language? Regardless of how good his English is.

      • superashes says:

        Noki – One of the things that made Virginia particularly difficult was they included tax law as a testable subject (or, at least they did many years ago) and because it is a Commonwealth. When you are in law school you typically only learn federal civil procedure and federal criminal procedure/federal evidence/etc. So, if you are in a Commonwealth state or a state that uses a civil code, it is already tough because you are basically adding in a new subject. Most non-commonwealth states have procedures that closely model federal law.

      • Grant says:

        Noki, note that there’s no such thing as an EASY Bar Exam. I think some states just have much more favorable curves than others. But it’s still a grueling multi-day test that you absolutely should not expect to pass if you have not studied for practically a whole summer (I took my Bar Exam in August after graduating law school that previous May) and taken approx. 100 practice tests, regardless of the state. It’s absolutely brutal and I cried with relief when I passed the Texas Bar.

    • TQ says:

      Yeah, I cried from sheer relief when I passed the NY Bar many many years ago. Bless Kei Komuro — am sure he’ll pass in February. All those NY State specific multiple choice and all those NY essays — ack!

      But I do know of people with BigLaw jobs who got booted after failing the bar a second time. But there are also plenty of firms and great law jobs outside of BigLaw. Am sure they’ll be fine.

      Sending the happy couple good vibes for their move to NYC!

    • Agirlandherdog says:

      This is the first time I think I’ve ever just cringed reading a story on here. Twenty years later, I can still say with conviction that while I was studying for the bar, the stress made me the absolute worst person I have ever been. And I willingly tested in two states. The NY bar is notoriously one of the hardest in the country. I cannot imagine going through that with “journalists” gleefully reporting your results.

      • Another Anna says:

        New York switched over to the Uniform Bar Exam in 2016. I took the UBE in 2019, so for those who are curious/not lawyers, the general UBE structure is one day for multiple choice, called the MBE (200 multiple choice questions over two 3-hour sessions). One day is for the essay portion, (the MEE and the MPT) which consists of six short essays and two longer written products, like a memo or a brief. It’s not as hard as it used to be for New Yorkers. The minimum passing score is a 266 out of 400. More than a dozen states require at least a 270 to pass. And it doesn’t matter where you take the test. If you get a 266 in Alabama then you can also choose to bar in NY. You do still have to take the New York law portion of the exam, but that’s open-book and administered online, generally after you pass the UBE.

        Now, all that being said, not passing the bar the first time out doesn’t mean a damn thing about what kind of lawyer you’ll be. Multiple choice questions are not the real life of a lawyer. Plus the bar prep period is a marathon nightmare, so if there were other things interfering with his study time, then I can completely understand. Bar prep while getting married is a lot. I have nothing but sympathy for him and I hope he crushes it the next time out.

    • Moneypenny424 says:

      I got anxious just reading this. I so clearly remember waiting for California bar results in 2003–you would log in at a certain time to check. Thank God I passed. I took the Massachusetts bar in 2006 and you got the results BY MAIL. It was horrible not knowing when the letter would show up!

      I feel for him. He must have been under a ton of stress with this situation, not to mention it must be difficult if English is not your first language. I have no doubt if he is able to focus, he’ll pass next time.

    • Antonym says:

      Oh I feel for him! I wishe we could get rid of 5he public pass list (and the bar exam).

      I just took the UBE in July. I sat in TX for licensing in NY. That exam was no joke. Even seeing my name on the pass list didn’t feel real. I have a good friend whose name wasn’t on the list. The thought of going though that again . . .

      Law school during COVID times was bad enough. Remote bar courses and exams either remote or in person while fearing the breath of the hundreds of other examinees was ridiculous (to put it mildly)

  4. Mimi says:

    Please let this young couple live their lives in peace. They aren’t bothering anyone and don’t deserve all this negativity.

    • Oh_Hey says:

      This. Do you know how incredibly difficult the NY bar is vs other states? It’s insane.
      These two clearly want to be left all the way alone. We should give them that freedom and privacy.

  5. Noki says:

    Can you blame the poor guy,all that stress! I am sure once they settle he will be in a better head space.

  6. Amy T says:

    Here to say that a couple (or even more) tries before passing the NY bar exam is not unusual. You’ve got this, Kei! Wishing them both all good things.

  7. yellowy says:

    6th time was the charm for Vincent LaGuardia Gambini!

  8. Delphi says:

    Second this strongly. They are obviously trying to live normal lives and aren’t courting fame.

  9. Louise177 says:

    I don’t know why this is even a story. A lot of people fail the first time and the second time. Much ado about nothing.

    • CarrieVirginia says:

      Yep. My Cousin Vinny 😂

    • Jennifer says:

      Yeah, my cousin’s on her…3rd or 4th wait for bar exam results in CA, which is super hard. I’m not making any judgements on that score!

      As the joke goes, you know what you call someone who took (however many times) to pass the bar exam? A lawyer.

  10. milliemollie says:

    It’s not embarrassing that he didn’t pass the bar exam yet. It’s really hard and I’m sure he’ll succeed eventually.

  11. Amy Bee says:

    Why is it embarrassing that he failed the bar exam? It just means for the time being he can’t try cases.

  12. Sofia says:

    Not in law or the US but I’ve heard the NY bar is pretty tough to pass (and the comments here would support that) so here’s hoping he’ll pass next time.

  13. Duch says:

    In Japan the pass rate for decades was only like 10%. 90% didn’t pass. They changed that about 10 years ago so more people passed. So it would be interesting how this is “judged” in Japan.

  14. lanne says:

    He’s also taking a difficult bar exam in a second language, which adds even more difficulty to the experience.

    • Fifi says:

      This. The bar exam is worded to trick you in to picking the wrong answer. It is very hard for non-native english speakers.

    • Aang says:

      I came to say this. I’m an ESL teacher and I helped a lawyer from Chile with his academic English while he was preparing to take the NYS bar. This guy had been practicing in Chile for a few years, was conversationally fluent in English, was doing an LLM at a NY law school, and he had a rough time with the legal language. He passed on his second try.

    • blackswan says:

      This. My first job out of law school was at a super intense Wall Street firm so failing was pretty rare – unless English was your second language. We had dozens of international associates who were all incredibly accomplished academically but often struggled with the time limitations. Which lMHO is the hardest thing about the bar. It’s not like the content is all that hard; it’s just that you have an incredibly short period of time to get a lot of information down on paper. So it can be really hard to finish on time if you are a non-native speaker.

  15. Maria says:

    I am sure this was because of the stress and harassment he is facing nonstop and I do not blame him one bit. I admire him for not giving up!

  16. Myra says:

    This has been a particularly strenuous time for him. Now, that he has passed one hurdle and finally married the love of his life, he can focus on the other. I wish both of them the best of luck.

  17. Snuffles says:

    They’ll both be fine. They’re in the middle of a huge physical, mental and emotional adjustment. I’m sure once they are settled, he’ll be able to focus better to prep for the exam. I still wonder why he took the exam in the middle of all this drama. Maybe he just wanted to get a baseline and learn how to prep better for the next time.

  18. Lawyergal says:

    Yea I feel terrible for him and I passed four bars on the first try. NY was by far the hardest – I think I only passed because it’s a lot of knowing how to standardize test and I can only imagine taking it in my second language without US SAT prep ingrained in me, especially if my first iwasn’t a Romance language.

    The best thing he can do is surround himself with positive people, stop paying attention to Japanese media and be kind to himself. He’s clearly a smart man if he can do law school in a foreign language.

    • AlpineWitch says:

      Just stopped by to say that English isn’t a Romance language either but I think it’s part of the Germanic group. However, as a non-native speaker I would guess it’s really difficult to learn if your language is not written with a Latin alphabet.

      • lawyergal says:

        Good point! You’re totally right. I meant if it wasn’t written with a Latin alphabet in my overtired brain. I tried learning to write in Hindi once and I couldn’t even write my numbers.

  19. Harla says:

    I have to disagree with you here Kaiser, I don’t think that Komuri failing the bar on his first try is embarrassing at all. I believe that failure is a great learning tool and if people could look at it in that light instead of negatively they would be much better off. Personally I’ve failed at lots of things the first time I tried them and continued to fail as long as I looked at those failings as Failure instead of the learning experiences they are.

  20. Nudge says:

    Aw, my husband failed the NY bar first time around (passed the 2nd time). One of my good friends succeeded on her 3rd try with California. Both are incredibly smart people, and I’m proud of them for keeping with it. it’s just a really difficult test!

  21. Lucylee says:

    He will pass. JFK, Jr had a hard time too

  22. AA says:

    The NY bar exam is super hard. No shade on not passing it the first time. He’ll do better next time and if not, take it again. They’ll be ok.

  23. Mina_Esq says:

    NY bar is hard. I feel for the kid.

  24. Murphy says:

    It’s completely reasonable to not pass on the first try. Now with his second attempt he’ll have Mako by his side and less stress during the studying period.

  25. Theothermia says:

    Aww, hope he does well in February!

  26. AmelieOriginal says:

    It’s not embarrassing for Kei to have failed the NY Bar. It is a notoriously difficult exam, as other commenters have pointed out. On top of that English is not Kei’s native language, so he has that to deal with as well. Add to the stress of knowing he would have to face the media when he got back to Japan in a few months and deal with the extra scrutiny once he married Mako, no wonder he failed. I am not well versed in the law school world but I feel like looking at a bar test would probably make my head explode. Of course the Japanese media probably don’t know this and are most likely using the fact he failed to further incite criticism against Kei.

    I have a friend who comes from a family of well to do lawyers, graduated college in 3 years as did her younger sister, always excelled in school and everything she did. She failed the NY bar on her first try which was a blow to her as she had always done well. Passed on her second try though so it all worked out. Another friend of mine passed it on her first try but she also moved to her parents’ beach house and isolated herself for weeks to study, pretty much not doing anything but practicing for that exam. She passed on her first try due to her extreme dedication.

  27. Ashley says:

    Ugh, I feel for him, but he can re-take it in February and some people say the February bar is “easier” than the July one. And since he’s at a big law firm he will still be able to keep his job while he prepares to re-take it.

    I’m a lawyer and took the NY and NJ bar exams and passed them on the first try, thankfully. I have a funny, now that I’m many years removed from it, bar story:

    As many others have said, NY posts the names of those who passed online as well as publishing in the Law Journal and emailing and mailing results. The year that I took the bar, the NY Board of Law Examiners accidentally posted the list of those who passed a week or 2 ahead of schedule. Some eagle eyed people noticed and posted the list on Above the Law before the Board caught their mistake and took it down. Once the Board realized that the list had leaked, they were forced to release the results early and re-posted the list to their website and sent email confirmations. So I found out I passed the bar on Above the Law, but didn’t really believe it until I got official confirmation. It made what is typically a really stressful event 10x more stressful, it was crazy afternoon of speculation and Facebook posting and texting with all of my law school friends about the situation.

    • EBS says:

      That’s hilarious! Above the Law used to be great for legal gossip, I haven’t read it in a while. I passed the NY bar on the first try but was absolutely convinced I had failed (thanks Barbri) so cried all the way driving home for many hours. My (English) husband passed the NY bar after studying for only two weeks, no lie, I could have killed him.

      • Ashley L. says:

        I would have killed him too. Bar prep turned me into a crazy person. My bar review class started literally the day after graduation. Insane.

  28. Myjobistoprincess says:

    This news is totally cruel – the guy is totally random, it just happens he’s dating a princess who is no longer a princess becuase they both want a private life – refusing all money attached to her standing. I think they refused so that nobody could accuse him of being a gold digger. I hope this makes them stronger. I hope he doesnt lose faith and will keep trying. love them even more.

  29. Lionel says:

    I feel terrible for him, because whether he passed or not is nobody’s business. (And as has been said above there’s ZERO shame in not passing the NY bar on the first try.) I’m not a lawyer but my professional career involved passing a series of stressful, difficult high-level tests. And yes if you cared you could look me up on a website somewhere to figure out if I’d passed by the presence or absence of my name, but luckily I didn’t marry an Imperial so nobody cared. I told my friends when I passed and they took me out for drinks, but if I hadn’t passed I wouldn’t have said anything and nobody would know, and I’d just have quietly gotten on with studying for a retake. Kei Komuro is a private citizen, his progress on his career path is nobody’s business but his own.

  30. Athena says:

    I hope this doesn’t turn into a Harry and Meghan situation, although they didn’t accept any money, paid back for Frogmore Cottage, the press is still reporting on and criticizing everything they do. Hopefully the Japanese royal family and their courtiers would have the strength to do what the BRF couldn’t/wouldn’t do and tell the press that those two are off limit.

    Kei did not grow up in the U.S. nor did he come at a young age, and he comes from a culture very different than ours. If the situation was reverse who amongst us would be able to pass the Japanese equivalent at a first try.

    Celebitchy, maybe we can not report on them and if you do I’ll not comment so not to add engagement to the post.

  31. canichangemyname says:

    Only empathy over here. I attended law school for two and a half years – I did leave early and never took the Bar, but I know people who did and studying for it was like a full-time job for them. It’s not a “failure,” and it’s not uncommon to have to re-take it. These are just people who are trying to make him feel bad. I’d love to see them take the Bar. Law school alone is HARD. I had a 3.9 GPA as an undergrad, but law school really through me for a loop and it was lonely because nobody who hadn’t been through it could understand why I had no time for anything else but studying and classes. I’d like to see THEM pass it LOL. I wish them both the best, they’re clearly in love.

  32. L4frimaire says:

    I’m surprised he took it so soon after the stress of the media storm they were just in. How can you focus on something as stressful as the bar exam after that. He’ll take it again and hopefully can focus more now that they’re married and out of Japan.

  33. paddingtonjr says:

    I honestly would have been surprised if he had passed the Bar on the first try. He and Mako are dealing with a lot right now: getting married, moving to a new country and having to deal with the press and opposition to their marriage. As many people here have said, many people don’t pass the Bar on the first try, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Hopefully things will have calmed down for them by February and then he can take the Bar without as many distractions.

  34. Watson says:

    The man is still a hot piece. LOL.

  35. Ann says:

    No shame there. A close relative of mine failed the first time, passed the second. The Bar is a nightmare, or at least it was for me. I’m a good test taker, generally, and I took it in a state with a relatively high pass rate, and I was still a wreck. The written portion was fine but the multiple choice was tricky. And he’s taking it in his second language. Completely understandable that he wouldn’t pass the first time, especially given the stress.

  36. Lane says:

    I hope that Kei not passing the bar hasn’t affected too much the joy of being newlyweds. Good luck to this couple who I think are quite brave and determined, I have no doubt they’ll both be very successful!

  37. Jess says:

    Just jumping on to add my two cents! JFK Jr. isn’t the only famous person to not pass the bar on the first try – Michelle Obama and Hilary Clinton both failed the bar on the first try! It doesn’t have anything to do with intelligence, it really has more to do with how much time you had to learn the test. My husband passed the PA and NY bars on the first try, but it was incredibly stressful! For the NY bar, he was already working at a firm in NYC and had basically no time to prepare at all. He also got vertigo on the train up to the exam (a whole other nightmare), but he was able to pass with no problem (probably because he had already been an attorney for 5 years at the point). I’m sure Kei will pass on his second try! Maybe though… he could just like be a model instead?? I don’t know why anyone would actively want to become a lawyer, especially in NYC if they have any other options! haha