Paul L. Caron

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Bar Exam Carnage Likely Will Worsen In 2016, 2017, And 2018

Following up on my recent posts on the widespread declines in bar exam pass rates (links below):  Jerry Organ (St. Thomas), Changes in Composition of the LSAT Profiles of Matriculants and Law Schools Between 2010 and 2015:

Given that the LSAT profiles of matriculants and of law schools for fall 2013, fall 2014 and fall 2015 are less robust than those for fall 2011 and fall 2012 (the classes that graduated in 2014 and 2015, respectively), one can anticipate that the declines in median MBE scaled scores and corresponding bar passage rates in 2014 and 2015 will continue in July 2016, 2017 and 2018 absent increases in attrition (I discussed attrition rates in a blog posting in October), significant improvement in academic support programs at law schools, or improved bar preparation efforts on the part of graduates.


Organ 2

If one focuses on the LSAT scores and UGPAs as measures of “quality” of the entering class of law students each year, then the period from 2010-2015 not only has seen a significant decline in enrollment, it also has seen a significant decline in “quality.”

Above the Law, The Great Law School Brain Drain Is The Reason Why More People Are Failing The Bar Exam Than Ever Before:

The worst is yet to come in terms of bar passage lows. Years from now, when society searches for the culprits behind the dumbing down of the legal profession, all fingers will point to the law school administrators who allowed this to happen on their watch.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

Legal Education | Permalink


Captain: Anytime we prejudge an entire class, generation or group of people, as being inferior, we certainly all pay a price and it is sure to blow up in everyone’s face. Anyone who is capable of advancing the incremental, “lawerly” argument you just did is capable of seeing people in the same light that the law sees an accused person. After decades of consulting to companies such as IBM, I know for a fact that the problem is usually changes in the system , rather than changes in the users.

Posted by: max moose | Jan 24, 2016 12:30:18 PM

Mr. Moose,

My wife frequently comments on my stupidity and lack of common sense. So maybe it's just me. I know I am not the brightest bulb on the street lamp. Every college and law school class I took presented its challenges. Even when I took a summer school class on Art History at a local community college, I had to use my limited noodle. That class was not simple. Law School was a challenge and in no way simple. Anytime I prejudge an intellectual task as "simple" I pay the price and it blows up in my face.

Posted by: Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King | Jan 24, 2016 9:36:22 AM

I happen to be reading “1L” at the moment. What strikes me is how simplistic the classes seemed to be in the 1970’s – and this was Harvard Law School! At that time I got my M.S. in Computer Science. At age 60, last year, I got my J.D. at an ABA-approved school,, partly because law school seemed so easy by comparison --and it was... BUT…the world keeps getting more and more complicated, and it’s forever tougher to be a competent professional. One thing I think Mr. Caron should have mentioned is that last year, the MBE added an eighth subject – Criminal Procedure – for the first time, rewriting the calculus of bar prep. The country isn’t getting stupider. Life is getting tougher.

Posted by: max moose | Jan 23, 2016 9:00:32 PM

As a lawyer, I have ethical limitations. I can't hire a sales staff to attract clients and bring in new work. That is called "chasing." I can't go to a wreck and hand out my card. I can't put my literature in and around hospitals, jails and funeral homes. Yet, these guys engage in sales that would make a car dealer blush....

Posted by: Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King | Jan 21, 2016 2:31:22 PM

It's an understatement to say that law school administrators "allowed this to happen on their watch." Schools exploiting unqualified 0Ls and the administrators that run them know exactly what they are doing, and they are doing it on purpose.

Posted by: Lonnie | Jan 21, 2016 10:33:58 AM

Riddle me this, Whittiers of the world: your faculty and administrators are on the record asserting that your most new admission practices (admitting large numbers of students large of sub 3.0 GPA, sub 145 LSAT students) are aimed at providing opportunity to underrepresented groups. Yet, the record shows that, as recent as, 2010, you did not admit folks with these same numbers at the rates you are currently. WHY?

Were your admissions practices racist in 2010? Were you failing your mission just five years ago?

Can you see how one might find your dramatic change in admission standards, in conjunction with your increased quasi open admission rates during the nationwide decline applicants, suspicious (by suspicious, I mean that your practices appear to be self serving rather than altruistic)?

Why weren't you serving this population of applicants at the same rates five years ago? They were applying, but you weren't letting them in. Now you are.


Posted by: Anon | Jan 21, 2016 9:38:27 AM

Recent grads, the practicing bar, the public and many faculty members will express concern about this trend before the ABA. It is sad what interests that organization has come to represent.

Posted by: JM | Jan 21, 2016 6:29:47 AM

The unranked correspondence like diploma mill law schools will simply pressure the Bar Examiners to lower the standards using cheap cover. They are utility maximizers and will do what it takes to maintain sales. They will lobby like big Pharma, big oil to maintain market share. Their product is no good if the newbies don't pass the bar.

Posted by: Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King | Jan 21, 2016 6:15:08 AM

I foresee more misinformation (aka lies or b.s.) from law schools to "address" the data.

I would love it if one honest insider would publicly state, "this is bad, and we aren't doing students or future clients any favors here."

Posted by: Jojo | Jan 21, 2016 4:20:49 AM