Thursday, August 2, 2012
Gary Rosin (South Texas), Comments on Look-Back Periods and Eventual Bar Passage Rates:
In its current review of the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools, the Standards Review Committee (SRC) had decided against proposing substantive changes to minimum Bar-passage standards for law schools. At its July 2012 meeting, the SRC indicated that it may be reconsidering the five-year “look-back” period for eventual Bar passage rates (over multiple attempts). In these Comments, I oppose cutting the look-back period. First, the “eventual” passage rate for the most-recent calendar year is primarily a first-time rate. A two-out-of-three-year standard, which some had proposed, would really be a two-out-of-two year standard. Second, the SRC is relying, at best, on overall national rates. Overall rates measure the average performance of law students, and are not appropriate for setting minimum standards for law schools. Overall rates also do not respond to concerns about the effect on minorities and on historically black law schools. Overall national rates also do not account for widely varying state minimum passing (“cut”) scores, which is especially important in setting an absolute, rather than a state-relative, eventual Bar passage rate standard.