Wednesday, June 26, 2013
National Law Journal, ABA Proposal Alarms Law School Diversity Advocates:
A proposal to tighten the ABA's bar passage
requirement for law schools hasn't gone over well with some advocates
for diversity in the legal profession. The committee updating
the ABA's accreditation standards has received letters from numerous
faculty and diversity organizations expressing concern since the plan
appeared to enjoy widespread support among committee members in late
April. The proposal would raise the minimum bar-pass rate from 75 to 80
percent, among other changes.
The National Bar Association —
the largest association of black lawyers and judges — on June 20 passed a
resolution opposing the proposal. The Society of American Law Teachers
(SALT) and the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA) sent a joint
letter to the committee warning the changes would have "dire
consequences on law schools with racially diverse student populations." Additionally, several diversity-focused groups within the ABA have written in opposition. ...
The proposal's opponents essentially argue that a tougher bar passage
requirement would dissuade law schools for accepting students with lower
undergraduate grades and Law School Admission Test scores — shutting
out a larger percentage of minority students, who on average score lower
on standardized tests. Those concerns have not fallen on deaf
ears, said Jeffrey Lewis, chairman of the ABA committee and a professor
at Saint Louis University School of Law. ...
The committee hopes to make its position paper available to the public
before its July 12 meeting, when it is scheduled to discuss the bar
passage proposal. The idea is to make the existing standard
more straightforward and encourage law schools to offer robust academic
support to students likely to struggle with the bar exam.
the new rule, at least 80 percent of a law school's graduates would
have to pass the bar exam within two years of graduation. The existing
rule requires that a minimum of 75 percent of graduates pass within five
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