Friday, February 8, 2008
I previously blogged (here and here) the ABA's proposed new objective bar passage standard for law school accreditation. The Consultant on Legal Education to the ABA has released a detailed FAQ on proposed Interpretation 301-6:
What does the new proposal say? Under the proposed Interpretation 301-6, a school can demonstrate compliance by meeting any one of three tests, two of which are framed in terms of ultimate bar examination pass rates and one in terms of first-time bar examination pass rates.
Ultimate bar examination passage rates: In response to comments we received that some law school graduates, particularly students of color, pass the bar examination but not necessarily on their first try, two of the tests for demonstrating compliance are explicitly tied to ultimate (as opposed to first-time) pass rates. Generally stated:
- at least 75% of a school’s graduates must ultimately pass the bar examination over the most recent five calendar years; or
- that, in each of three of the most recent five calendar years, at least 75% must ultimately pass.
First-time taker bar examination passage rates: The proposed Interpretation also permits a school to demonstrate compliance through first-time bar examination passage rates. In three or more of the five most recently completed calendar years, the school’s annual first-time bar passage rate in the jurisdictions reported by the school must be no more than 15 points below the average first-time bar passage rates for graduates of ABA-approved law schools taking the bar examination in the same jurisdictions.
In my earlier post, I included tables listing law schools that were close to these 75%/15% thresholds in a one-year snapshot of data. As I explained in the post, and several commentators pointed out, proposed Interpretation 301-6 measures bar passage rates over a five-year period. Schools that fall below the 75%/15% thresholds in any one year thus can (and often do) easily meet Interpretation 301-6 when measured over the requisite five-year period, especially when the differences between bar passage rates for first-time and non-first-time test-takers are factored in (which they are not in the one-year data). And in any event schools that are out of compliance with the 75%/15% thresholds for the five-year period can obtain an extension upon a showing of good cause. I apologize to any schools that feel unfairly maligned by my prior post's use of the incomplete one-year data.