Paul L. Caron

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Lawmakers Ask Calif. Chief Justice To Cut State Bar Exam Score

California Bar ExamThe Recorder, Lawmakers Ask Calif. Chief Justice to Cut State Bar Exam Score:

Democratic members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee asked the California Supreme Court on Thursday to temporarily reduce the required passing score on the state bar exam.

California’s pass score, also known as the cut score, is the second highest in the nation. The cut score has been under fire since November, when the results from the July exam revealed that just 43 percent of test-takers passed—a 32-year low.

Frustrated law school deans told lawmakers at a hearing last month that the high score is putting their graduates at a competitive disadvantage and forcing educators to spend too much time focusing on test preparation. ...

State Bar executive director Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker testified at the February hearing that “there is no good answer” for why the state’s cut score is so high. ...

In a letter sent Tuesday to state bar leaders, the chief justice noted the deans’ “significant concerns” and asked bar officials to investigate the exam and its pass rates and to issue a report by Dec. 1. On Thursday, Assembly members said a study with no promised action “will not adequately address this crisis.”

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It's not an "artificial barrier." In New York, California, and many other states, you can become a lawyer with 1 year of law school plus 3 years of apprenticeship working under a licensed lawyer.

Almost no one does this because no clients want to hire lawyers who have been trained in that way.

Even Northwestern's accelerated 2 year law degree was a failure.

Law school exists because the market demands it, not by regulatory fiat.

Posted by: Burn down everything! | Mar 11, 2017 8:36:24 AM


I'll do you one better: get rid of the main artificial barrier: the three year, incredibly obsolete American legal education. Make legal studies a five year undergrad program as it is in most of the rest of the world, watch people graduate with far less debt, and be able to start filling the mortifying holes in civil legal services for the middle and lower classes. Oh, you don't want that to happen because it will put your law professoring job in danger? Shocker.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Mar 10, 2017 7:10:43 PM

@ Protectionism,

Explain why after thirty years of using the same standard law schools are only now complaining that California's bar exam cutoff is a "artificial barrier"?

Why did schools not take this position between 1986 - 2015?

Posted by: JM | Mar 10, 2017 10:25:51 AM

With that protectionist, loser attitude--raise artificial barriers to people becoming lawyers so there's less competition for me--I'm surprised UNE and JM aren't Trump supporters!

Posted by: protectionism | Mar 10, 2017 7:54:38 AM

Look at the speed of reform when it relates to helping law schools cheat more money out of the vulnerable and oblivious. I've never seen such quick action by law schools or their governing bodies.

Posted by: JM | Mar 9, 2017 12:19:55 PM

C'mon, at least have the stone to ask for a permanent (and arbitrary) reduction in MBE pass rate. To just ask for a temporary lowering after many years of a constant, relatively uncontroversial pass rate makes it even more obvious that it is mere cover for ubiquitous lowering of admissions standards by law schools. It really is amateur hour out there...

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Mar 9, 2017 11:47:19 AM