Bar Exam Pass Rates Drop Across the Country

, The National Law Journal


Bar exam passage rates sank in several big states, indicating a drop in the qualifications of students amid fewer law school applications.

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What's being said

  • This is what happens when higher education curriculum starts to cater to the dumbest people in the room instead of the smartest.

    The problem is endemic, and this is merely a symptom of it.

  • Ken

    There is no nexus between bar exam results and a persons ability to practice, satisfying the tactical burden. The tactical burden is impossible to test on the Bar Exam. The Bar Exam needs to be abolished. It serves the interests of those who are paid to administer it.

  • Ro Kay

    Becoming a professional, i.e., achieving proficiency in a field of study, requires a number of things, not one thing only. In law, primarily one must be able to read and understand, to analyze, to analogize, to perceive the pertinent concept, and to know how to apply it with supportive documentation and legal precedence. The LSATs, at least in my day and that of my adult children, tests for reading comprehension, reasoning ability, and the ability to apply general knowledge to the particular. The Bar Exam tests for more of the latter. Law school hopefully tests for the ability to communicate through speech and the written word. If fewer people with those skills are going to law school, fewer are going to pass the Bar Exam. The biggest mistake the profession can make is to "dumb down." Thank our lucky stars that those who do not have those skills will not be lawyers. For the past several decades law schools have pumped out far too many mediocre or worse lawyers to be. They have gone on to do harm to clients, and generally degrade the profession. Noting that some states grade on a curve and control the number of lawyers they will admit, in my opinion that is not a terrible thing. A glut of mediocre professionals should not be our goal.

  • Chef

    The CA Bar Exam is graded on a curve, meaning that the Sate Bar sets the pass rate they want. The lower pass rate is deliberate.

  • Bub

    I think there is more that needs to be examined for the cause of the lower passage rates. The current focal point is that it is due to students with lower GPA/LSAT scores being admitted to law school. As a current 3L, I have done well in some of my classes by utilizing old bar exams. Doing so, I have worked exams up to 10-15 years old. The same patterns do appear; however, I would say that for some of the sections, the newer exams ask more nuanced questions that deal with exceptions and the exceptions to the exceptions, etc. Further, some sections used to ask distinct questions to that topic, but now the questions with different concepts are interspersed or blended (where they used to not be). The latter I would guess is presumed to be more like the practice of law (I don‘t know since I am a 3L and haven‘t done more than be a law clerk) because in a civil matter a client isn‘t going to clearly state all the possible issues (they may be presenting a sales issue blended with business entities).

  • lawgal

    Being able to pass the bar has nothing whatsoever to do with a student‘s overall qualifications. Taking and passing the exam does nothing to prepare a person for a legal career. It seems a bit bogus to attribute this to lower admissions standards. Much more likely, it has to do with a 140-character attention span. Read more:

  • Prodigal InPA

    Good then bad. In my lifetime I‘ve observed that what was in Law School, largely would not have been in my day. Never mind what they "spent" - it isn‘t a Mall. It became a bragging point for parents in the 8O‘s and went downhill from there. Just look at the "protesters" in Harvard & Yale, etc - it‘s reputation is shot. It‘s Public School now.PS They‘ve spent OUR money & default in droves.

  • Martin

    Considering how much these students will have invested in their degrees, there will most definitely be pressure for some changes in grading, content of the tests; admissions policies; methods of education. Unknown for some time will be the effects on the profession. Does inability to pass the bar initially change the perceived worth of a law degree in the eyes of potential employers outside the justice/regulatory market?

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