Paul L. Caron
Dean




Monday, September 19, 2016

July 2016 Florida Bar Exam Results

Florida Bar 2The July 2016 Florida bar passage rates by school are out. The overall pass rate was 68.2%, down 0.7 percentage points from last year and 12 percentage points from 2011.  Here are the results for the 11 Florida law schools, along with each school's U.S. News ranking (Florida and overall):

Bar Pass

Rank (Rate)

 

School

US News Rank

FL (Overall)

1 (88.8%)

Florida Int'l

4 (103)

2 (80.6%)

Miami

3 (60)

3 (80.5%)

Stetson

4 (103)

4 (78.8%)

Florida State

2 (50)

5 (78.6%)

Florida

1 (48)

6 (66.7%)

Ave Maria

Tier 2

7 (63.0%)

Nova

Tier 2

8 (52.9%)

Florida A&M

Tier 2

9 (51.9%)

Florida Coastal

Tier 2

10 (49.0%)

Barry

Tier 2

11 (45.5%)

St. Thomas

Tier 2

Here are the results for on the MPRE for the 11 Florida law schools, along with each school's U.S. News ranking (Florida and overall):

MPRE Pass

Rank (Rate)

 

School

US News Rank

FL (Overall)

1 (88.4%)

Florida Coastal

Tier 2

2 (88.1%)

Florida State

2 (50)

3 (87.9%)

Nova

Tier 2

4 (87.6%)

Stetson

4 (103)

5 (85.7%)

Miami

3 (60)

6 (83.6%)

Florida Int'l

4 (103)

7 (83.0%)

St.Thomas

Tier 2

8 (81.4%)

Florida

1 (48)

9 (75.0%)

Ave Maria

Tier 2

10 (71.4%)

Barry

Tier 2

11 (60.0%)

Florida A&M

Tier 2

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2016/09/july-2016-florida-bar-exam-results.html

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Comments

ConcernedAlumni,

To reiterate: I have no dog in the Florida fight and no involvement (nor any interest in involvement) with iLaw. My point is merely that your pre-existing visceral dislike to that dean seems to be leading you to some odd conclusions.

It does appear I had the start date of her deanship wrong, but it really doesn't matter: what precisely do you think she has done or has failed to do in her relatively short time there that caused July 2016 bar passage rates to fall? If you can't answer that, then you're likely conflating correlation with causation out of a dislike for her personally or a more general and inaccurate belief that a dean can unilaterally affect bar results.

Posted by: anon | Sep 22, 2016 4:30:01 AM

Anon,

For starters Dean Laura Rosenbury has been the dean since July 1, 2015 so your "three weeks" assertion is factually incorrect, and so it follows that your argument is similarly flawed. As a side note, my post indicated Levin was in decline during her watch and that it would continue to decline as a result of her ilaw affiliations. While I think a year and three weeks is enough time to have some effect on the bar passage rate my main concern was that of the bar passage rate prospectively. Also, while iLaw may cherry pick professors looking for an extra 5-10k from various schools(some of which are top tier) you cannot deny that iLaw's application is geared to lower tiered schools. My guess is that you would find very few tier 1's outsourcing their professorial duties in this manner.

Second, whatever your feelings are regarding the professors on iLaw (which my intuition tells me is where you have a dog in this fight), I wonder if the law school students had an expectation that they would be able to take courses on campus with law school faculty during the summer term, as the case has been in all recent times. A state school is undoubtedly made up of students that predominantly want to stay in that state (which is why Levin is concerned with the Fla bar passage rate as opposed to other states). It is only logical that they would want professors similarly invested in that state rather than a professor in some far away land with no knowledge of Florida law and no connections therein. Would you not agree? Is increased scholarship a worthy cause for shirking the primary responsibility of preparing bar admissible students? My critiques of Dean Laura Rosenbury where more than fair, and I am sure enlightening to many that were unaware of these curriculum adjustments.

Posted by: ConcernedAllumni | Sep 21, 2016 3:31:35 PM

"However unfortunately the U.S. news report takes many factors into consideration when ranking schools, including factors such as how good a school's football team is."

While it is not outside the realm of possibility that some completers of the USNWR law school prestige-o-meter incorporate the strength of undergraduate football teams into the equation, I have to imagine such folk are far-flung outliers.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Sep 21, 2016 2:59:19 PM

ConcernedAlumni,

I have no connection to Florida (or iLaw or InfiLaw) whatsoever, but feel compelled to point out two significant flaws in your reasoning:

1. Whatever your concerns about Dean Rosenbury, the school's July 2016 bar passage rate cannot logically be pinned on her. She just became the Dean on July 1, 2016. Nothing she could have done in the three weeks before those students took the bar exam would have had any effect -- for good or ill -- whatsoever on their bar passage rates.

2. For the record, the iLaw distance offerings include faculty from law schools across the country, including some very well known profs from very well-respected schools. It is not my sense that profs at InfiLaw schools predominate in the iLaw course offerings.

Your anger at their current dean seems to have you looking for ammunition that's not there.

Posted by: anon | Sep 21, 2016 2:42:11 PM

The July Bar results indicate that Florida's Levin College of Law is in decline under the leadership of Dean Laura Rosenbury. Based on information I have received regarding the summer curriculum it appears that this is just the beginning of Levin's decline. In an effort to heighten scholarship amongst the Law School Faculty, Dean Laura Rosenbury instituted a moratorium on Faculty taught summer courses. Instead, all faulty was to focus on their respective scholarship.

In order to provide courses for students, who were presumably counting on summer course loads, Dean Laura Rosenbury struck a deal to provide online summer courses to Levin's students through iLaw. Those unfamiliar with iLaw, it is a sister company to Infilaw. Infilaw is responsible for notorious tier 4 law school such as Florida Coastal, Arizona Summit, and Charlotte School of Law. Why Dean Laura Rosenbury felt the need to subject Tier 1 law students to education opportunities of Tier 4 law schools is beyond comprehension. And judging by Florida Coastal's dismal bar passage rate (despite having a curriculum much akin to a barbari review course) the iLaw affiliation will foreseeably result in more mediocracy in Levin's bar passage rates.

Should a public law school really be placing scholarship goals over the best interest of its students? Those best interests being first and foremost a bar license!

Posted by: ConcernedAllumni | Sep 21, 2016 12:16:07 PM

With regards to the FIU deanlet, I'm sure that makes a difference. I wonder why it hasn't made a difference at UF and other schools that have the same type of bar preparation course. One person can't make all the difference.

Posted by: ElProf | Sep 21, 2016 12:14:43 PM

FIU Law is for real. The tides are turning and the only ones who can change that are the incoming students. Why anyone who wants to pass the bar would choose any school based upon anything other than highest bar passage rate is why the other school's pass rates are lower. Three times in a row is no accident and with the way things are going, FIU making it four times in a row is a very likely scenario. However unfortunately the U.S. news report takes many factors into consideration when ranking schools, including factors such as how good a school's football team is. FIU will fail to rise to the level it deserves in such a ranking system, but the lack of respect provides them with something that can't be matched by any other school: a burning desire to prove the rankings wrong.

Posted by: Real Talk | Sep 21, 2016 5:47:49 AM

Schools that are knowingly admitting large numbers of those at "extreme risk" of failing the Bar Exam (LSAT's below about 145) with low GPA's to boot (below 3.0), deserve particular scrutiny, especially when they charge tuition comparable to Harvard Law, and graduate students with average debt higher than Harvard Law, wouldn't you agree, anon?

Florida and Florida State's 79ish% pass rates on this administration, while arguably a few (4 0r 5) percentage points lower than one might expect, do not warrant the same "vigor" as the schools that *consistently* struggle to break 40%.

Seems obvious to me, but i may be biased, not being on a law school payroll, and all...

Posted by: Anon | Sep 20, 2016 4:31:23 PM

@"small" anon,

I often talk about how my very own law school has one of the worst records out there when it comes to good LSAT/GPA inputs and terrible job outcome & salary outputs. I often talk about how it is unfathomable that schools like Harvard and Columbia raised tuition 50% over a time when Biglaw salaries didn't budge an inch - and so declined in real dollars (Has it become 50% more expensive to educate a law student since 2007? Please.). I talk about a lot of things with a lot of people regarding all aspects of higher education. But as to your point, I think "big" Anon probably has come to the heart of the matter with FIU having a dedicated bar exam deanlet and review course.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Sep 20, 2016 4:09:32 PM

Ok, "folks": then why not examine the underperformance of schools with higher credentials/higher rankings with the same vigor as you usually apply to schools with lower credentials/lower rankings?

Posted by: anon | Sep 20, 2016 1:51:38 PM

anon,

FIU's entering class of 2013 had a media GPA of 3.59 (putting it in the top 20% of ALL U.S. law schools...its median entering GPA was and is higher than all the other Florida schools, not to mention UC Irvine, Davis, Hastings, North Carolina, and many other top 50 schools).

FIU's median LSAT of 156 put them in the top 45% of ALL law schools, and close to , or better than some, of its higher ranked Florida brethren.

In fact, FIU's 25th percentile LSAT of 151 was far from the the extreme risk band (the low 140's). Their performances thus seems to fit perfectly with those *folks'* narratives that higher entrance credentials translate into higher bar exam performance. Indeed, FIU's results should come as no particular surprise, given its LSAT/GPA figures, they should be passing at 88% or higher on the Florida Bar. Florida/Florida State's relative under performance are what surprised me.

http://www.lstscorereports.com/schools/fiu/2015/ (courtesy of those *folks*)

Posted by: Anon | Sep 20, 2016 12:19:22 PM

Yawn. There are multiple studies showing the correlation between LSAT performance and bar exam performance, particularly once we get below the 145 threshold or thereabouts, and of course it was folk like the law professor website Faculty Lounge that did the analysis finding a .71 correlation coefficient between a law school's USNWR rank and the percentage of its graduates who managed to land a FT/LT/license-required job.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Sep 20, 2016 12:03:48 PM

FIU has a "Director of Bar Preparation" that teaches a 3L class dedicated to the bar exam.

https://law.fiu.edu/fiyou-meet-raul-ruiz-fiu-laws-new-director-bar-preparation/

Posted by: Anon | Sep 20, 2016 11:00:42 AM

FIU is the real story here. But folks like UNe (and the "Law School Transparency" organization) will ignore that because it doesn't fit their narrative that LSAT scores and US News ranking are outcome determinative for bar passage and job placement.

Posted by: anon | Sep 20, 2016 8:44:18 AM

"Shouldn't all law school departments, including tax, slim down in light of the diminished applicant pool?"

Yes - but many won't, for reasons including but not limited to revenue, job stability, fear of a rankings/financial death spiral, a misguided belief that generation-old earnings outcomes data is relevant today, the parent institution still requires X dollars "tax" from the law school, and so forth.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Sep 20, 2016 8:05:53 AM

And somehow FIU, whose LSAT numbers are not as high as UF's, continues to shine. I wonder what they are doing right that UF keeps doing wrong. I think FIU is the real story here.

http://www.lstscorereports.com/schools/fiu/2015/

Posted by: ElProf | Sep 20, 2016 7:35:01 AM

Unemployed Northeastern | Sep 19, 2016 9:03:42 PM,
Thanks for this. That's a significant drop that surely changes the status of the law school and sounds like a significant recruitment problem. In light of this, and the substantive statements he made in his letter (e.g. 80% acceptance rate into Florida's LL.M. program), Robert Rhee's comments resonate with me: Shouldn't all law school departments, including tax, slim down in light of the diminished applicant pool?

Posted by: AnonProf | Sep 20, 2016 7:09:14 AM

@Anonprof,

Some possible light on the subject of the fairly dismal UF pass rate:

LSAT and GPA 25th/median/75th percentile splits, matriculating class of 2010:

160 / 162 / 164
3.44 / 3.67 / 3.84

And the same splits for the class that entered in the Fall of 2013, who just took the bar exam:

156 / 160 / 162
3.31 / 3.55 / 3.76

And for the class that matriculated last fall:

155 / 157 / 160
3.28 / 3.5 / 3.68

http://www.lstscorereports.com/schools/florida/2015/

Oh, and the score to pass the MPRE in Florida is a mere 80.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Sep 19, 2016 9:03:42 PM

Anon | Sep 19, 2016 3:52:15 PM,
I guess I see the MPRE differently than you. UF professors deserve better students. The MPRE is an easy exam. One could pass it without ever being enrolled in law school. You only need the study guide books and spend time preparing. The abysmal results in Florida seem to indicate a lack of preparation on the part of the students.

On the other hand, the bar passage rate is significantly lower than I would have expected from a law school of that caliber, and I wonder whether it indicates something about the extent to which Florida prepares its students to take essay exams. Maybe I'm off track, but it's just an idea.

Posted by: AnonProf | Sep 19, 2016 6:17:30 PM

Maybe UF Law's Dean Rosenbury and Prof. Rhee should spend more time concentrating on the JD program instead of micromanaging every aspect of the school and sowing seeds of discontent and mistrust. UF law was 8th in the state in the MPRE exam. UF Law students deserve better!

Posted by: Anon | Sep 19, 2016 3:52:15 PM

The bar exam is a test of MINIMAL COMPETENCE. I find it appalling that certain schools strut around thinking of themselves as premier research institutions operating at a certain level when objective indicators point to manifest failure to educate. Bar passage rates are hard facts, and the graduates who recently failed the bar exam deserve an explanation. There are many ways to measure a faculty, and the ability to train minimally competent lawyers is one of them.

Posted by: Lux | Sep 19, 2016 1:12:06 PM