Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

ABA Proposal to Tighten Bar Passage Requirement Alarms Law School Diversity Advocates

ABA Logo 2National 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.

Under 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 years.

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Years ago the Federal Government did a large chunk of its hiring based on scores on their Professional and Administrative Career Exam ("the PACE test"). They quit using it because minorities couldn't score high enough to get hired in politically correct numbers. Competence is a casualty of this demand that we have race-based equality in all things.

The sad thing about all this is that I would never use a minority doctor or a minority lawyer because it would always be in the back of my mind that there is a good chance they have gotten where they are because of preferential treatment, not on merit.

Posted by: CleanWillie | Jun 27, 2013 11:11:01 AM

How would minorities be hurt by raising standards?

The percentage of Asians in good law schools would go up.

Posted by: Eric R. | Jun 27, 2013 10:40:23 AM

Avi, HTA, and Todd do not understand "diversity."

The next step is to lower bar admission standards so that the "correct" numbers of heavily indebted and ill-prepared minority students can get permission to practice law.

Then when they still don't get hired, have the EEOC and the DOJ crank up the heat on law firms and corporations to hire the "correct" numbers of heavily indebted and ill-prepared minority lawyers. Also lean on banks to make (yet more!) loans, to heavily indebted and ill-prepared minority lawyers who want to practice solo, especially in low-income neighborhoods. Model it on the home-loans-to-the-less than credit-worthy programs of the 1990s/early 2000s, since those worked out so well. Back all those loans up with the Government (as long as the banks understand they have to donate some of the profits to the correct senators, congressmen, and parties.)

Then when the (now even more) heavily indebted and ill-prepared (but practicing!) minority lawyers start losing case after case in court against actual competent attorneys, start pressuring judges to make sure their decisions result in the "correct" number of wins for the heavily-indebted and ill-prepared lawyers.

Remember, if a government intervention results in a bad outcome, the answer is MORE government intervention, especially on the "results" end.

Posted by: Eric | Jun 27, 2013 7:51:05 AM

It's not really much of a surprise. Disappearing grievances are as much of a threat to grievance-mongers as disappearing fish is to fishmongers. I guess we also need to ask if the US is really groaning under a shortage of lawyers and if a slight reduction in their supply would herald the End Times.

Posted by: David Gillies | Jun 27, 2013 7:44:46 AM

So you have the National Bar Association arguing that minorities are inferior and so cannot be held to the same standard as everyone else? Amazing, simply amazing.

Posted by: MassJim | Jun 27, 2013 7:26:00 AM

This is what happens when guild mentalities and hive-minds meet. Worlds collide.

Posted by: MarkJ | Jun 27, 2013 7:23:08 AM

Why do these racists persist in arguing that minorities are less capable of learning the law than white people?

Posted by: Scott | Jun 27, 2013 6:32:32 AM

So if I am reading this correctly, this proposal would raise the admission standards and thereby prevent some under-prepared minorities from entering law school, failing the bar (which they do at a much higher rate) and ending up with massive student debt and no license to practice law.

This is a bad thing?

The diversity lobby really has skewed priorities, one would hope they showed more concern for those students who are admitted with little realistic chance of ever passing the bar. B

Posted by: Todd | Jun 26, 2013 4:03:59 PM

Yes, clearly the solution here is to have heavily indebted minorities with no job prospects. The concern here is misdirected. Either (a) the exam needs to change and/or (b) law schools with poor passage rates need to improve. These committees need to refocus their energy on improving the bar to better reflect ability to practice law and improve legal education.

Posted by: HTA | Jun 26, 2013 3:47:34 PM

Much better to admit minority students, have them spend three years and 150K on a law degree, and then have them fail the bar. What could be better for diversity than that?

Posted by: Avi | Jun 26, 2013 1:39:10 PM