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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Monday, August 21, 2017

More Law School Deans Call For Lowering California Bar Exam Cut Score

California Bar ExamABA Journal, More Law School Deans Call For Lowering California Bar Exam Cut Score:

Law school deans at public hearings this week in San Francisco and Los Angeles called on the state of California to lower its bar exam cut score. ...

The state bar commissioned a standard setting study, which offered two suggestions: Set a new interim bar exam cut score at 141 from the current 144, or make no change to the current score.

Among those who spoke Tuesday in San Francisco were Anthony Niedwiecki of Golden Gate University School of Law, Courthouse News Service reports. He said a shift in teaching strategy is needed. “With California scores so out of sync with other states, California schools are required to spend more time teaching students how to take the bar exam instead of providing them the essential skills and opportunity to engage with clients in real practice,” Niedwiecki said.

Only 26 percent of 148 Golden Gate graduates sitting for the July 2016 California bar passed it, according to a supplemental statistics report posted on TaxProf Blog.

David Faigman, dean of the University of California San Francisco Hastings College of Law and a recent appointee to the ABA’s Commission on the Future of Legal Education, advocated for California using a cut score that is comparable to other states. According to him, the median bar exam cut score nationally is 135. ... The July 2016 California bar passage rate for his school was 48 percent of 333 total test-takers, according to the supplemental statistics report.

Jennifer Mnookin, the dean of the UCLA School of Law, is also pushing for a 135 cut score, reported. ... Out of 284 UCLA law grads who took the July 2016 California bar, 80 percent passed, according to the supplemental statistics report.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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The state bar of California recently sent out a ballot/questionnaire to the active bar members soliciting comments on this issue, and asking for them to vote on the proposals (either lower to 141 or no change).

As a respondent voting no change, and in talking with a great number of colleagues, I'm convinced the survey will make clear that what these deans seek is the exact opposite of what the active bar endorses...It'll be interesting to see who the Cal. Supreme Court sides with.

Posted by: Anon | Aug 21, 2017 11:59:30 AM