News/Columns

Could Spreading the Bar Exam Over Three Years Raise Passage Rates?

, The National Law Journal

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At this week's Association of American Law Schools conference, law professors and doctors alike urged a shift in the bar exam's structure to be more akin to med school, all in an effort to improve bar passage rates.

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  • Kathleen M Waggoner, Ph.D., J.D.

    One of the reasons for the low bar pass rate very well could be that students both enter and leave the university absent analytical writing skills. They enter law school with few skills for either research or writing and the rigor they suddenly confront is alien to them. Once they complete their 2 semester course in Legal Research and Writing, they seem unable to apply what they learn there to their other courses. The inability to not only identify relevant facts but also how to apply the law to them is more than disturbing. We do what we can at the undergraduate level. Nonetheless, by the time far too many students are enrolled in senior level courses, it‘s an uphill battle, akin to pushing the proverbial rock up a hill with a rope. Students accustomed to studying 5 hours a week are now suddenly reading 100 pages or more a day. They become paralyzed by the workload alone. We will, nonetheless, keep trying because we are inching ahead.

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