Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

NLJ: ABA to Toughen Bar Passage Requirement

ABA Logo 2National Law Journal:  ABA Eyes Tighter Bar-Passage Rule for Law Schools, by Karen Sloan:

The ABA's bar passage-rate requirement for law schools may soon become more straightforward but harder to meet.

The ABA committee revising the law school accreditation standards is poised to endorse a new rule that would require at least 80% percent of a school's graduates to pass the bar within two years of graduation—an increase from 75% within five years. Graduates would have at least five shots at passing the test to help their alma maters meet the 80% requirement.

The details might yet change, but there is widespread support for clarifying and strengthening the standard, said committee chairman Jeffrey Lewis, a professor at Saint Louis University School of Law. "I think it's fair to say that there is consensus that the current interpretation is meaningless and empty, and thus very misleading," he said. ...

Before 2008, the ABA spelled out no specific bar-passage minimum. Instead, it enforced what was called the "70/10 Rule": At least 70% of a school's first-time bar takers had to pass the exam in the school's home state. Alternatively, the first-time bar-pass rate could be no more than 10% below the average for other ABA-accredited schools in that state.

But the U.S. Department of Education—which authorizes the ABA to accredit law schools—requested a clearer rule. After much discussion, the ABA in 2008 began requiring that at least 75% of a school's graduates pass the bar exam in at least three of the past five years [FAQ]. Schools can meet the standard if their first-time bar-passage rate is no more than 15% below other ABA schools in the same state during three of the past five years. The 15% requirement is intended to level the playing field across states, given that passage rates vary widely, depending on jurisdiction.

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Excuse the pun, but the bar is set too low. I think 4 in 5, after one year is a much better rule. A law school can't justify it's tuition if it can't produce graduates capable of passing the bar exam.

Posted by: HTA | May 1, 2013 3:02:19 PM