TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Friday, February 3, 2017

Students At 51 Law Schools Are At Extreme Or Very High Risk Of Failing The Bar Exam

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Law School Transparency, State of Legal Education: 2017 Update:

In October 2015, Law School Transparency published an investigation into falling enrollment and admissions standards at dozens of law schools. We concluded that a minority of schools made unethical admissions decisions in response to budgetary pressure. ...

The LSAT helps predict what's to come on the bar exam. While individual results vary, students with very low LSAT scores do worse on average on the bar exam than students with middling or high LSAT scores. ...

In 2015, we examined 197 ABA-approved law schools primarily using data from 2010 and 2014. At the time, there were 26 "extreme risk" and 19 "very high" risk schools based on 25th percentile 1L LSAT scores, up from four in each category in 2010. Students in the bottom quartile at these schools face a substantial chance of not completing school or passing the bar. Two years later, with seven additional law schools measured, there are four fewer extreme risk schools (22), but ten more very high risk schools (29). One in four law schools had gone too far in 2016, enrolling large numbers of students likely to fail.  [Students at 51 law schools are at minimal risk of failing the bar exam'.] 


Despite falling bar passage rates, increased attention on admissions standards, and a regulatory body poised to act, several dozen schools have refused to self-correct. Any doubt that these schools were intentionally gambling with real lives has dissipated, as ignorance is no longer an excuse, if it ever was.


ABA Journal, LSAT Scores at High-Risk Schools Getting Worse, According to Analysis by Law School Reform Group

Legal Education | Permalink


Perhaps the Deans who signed that disingenuous letter asking California to lower its required passing score on the bar exam could also speak broadly to the choices law schools made that are reflected in the extreme, very high and high risk bands?

Perhaps they could join in on signing a letter asking that schools stop admitting students in these bands until a study can be performed to understand how to better prepare these folks to actually pass the bar? When pigs fly.

Posted by: Anon | Feb 3, 2017 8:26:11 AM

I love the shifting arguments from the law schools. When grads could not find employment, they were told you can do anything with a law degree! There are so many great JD advantage jobs. The schools bragged about the pedagogical superiority of a legal education compared to other graduate education. They claimed law graduates have superior analytical skills and can think on their feet! Now that the law schools have to publish factual employment numbers, rather than the fraudulent 99% employed earning 6 figure salaries statistics they published in the past, the schools are struggling to recruit students. So the schools lowered their standards to keep the student loan money flowing into their coffers. Now, as predicted, students are struggling to pass the bar. You would expect the law schools to tell these students not to worry about failing the bar, because they can get one of those amazing JD advantage jobs. But the low bar passage rates threaten the accreditation of these law schools. So now, the argument shifts to “the bar exam is too hard.” They claim if they lose accreditation, many students will lose “access” to the legal profession. Funny that the “best graduate education that you can get” is no longer able to prepare students to pass the bar.

Posted by: Unemployed JD to MD | Feb 4, 2017 8:02:58 AM