Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Why Florida International Dominates The Florida Bar Exam

FIU LogoDaily Business Review, Why FIU Dominates the Florida Bar Exam:

When it comes to earning the top spot for performance on the Florida Bar exam, the secret’s in the hands-on training.

At least that’s how Florida International University acting law dean Tawia B. Ansah explains FIU’s No. 1 ranking, outpacing all others as the school with the highest percentage of first-time candidates succeeding on the bar exam.

“You can take really good bar-prep courses … but if the leadup to that isn’t sufficient, it’s going to show up in the results,” said Ansah, a Columbia University graduate who teaches contracts, international business transactions, conflict of laws, professional responsibility and jurisprudence/legal theory. “I think our students are doing well on the bar because they’re learning how to write well and communicate well, and they’re learning communication skills throughout the program.”

Eighty-five percent of FIU’s first-time test takers passed the February exam, according to the results the Florida Board of Bar Examiners released Monday. Last year, 87.8 percent passed the July exam, which has a much larger pool.

At the heart of FIU’s law curriculum is its mandatory legal skills and values program with three prongs over three semesters. ...

Other institutions saw room for improvement and acknowledged the need for more structure.

The University of Florida Levin College of Law, for instance, came in last on the February exam with a 31.8 percent success rate. A statement attributed to its dean, Laura A. Rosenbury, called the “shocking” results “a clear wake-up call.”

“The results are utterly unacceptable given the caliber of our students and the quality of their education,” according to the email. “The efforts we undertook prior to the February bar exam were clearly insufficient. We will be increasing the support we provide to the students taking the July 2018 bar exam. We have a long tradition at UF Law of respecting our students’ autonomy and control over the courses they take. Given these shocking and disheartening results, we are rethinking this approach and doubling down on our intervention strategy.”

FIU beat out the University of Miami, which took second place in July with an 84.2 percent pass rate, and Florida State University, which came in third with 83.9 percent, as 3,247 applicants sat for the summer test.

FIU typically vies with the private UM for top pass rates, but the latest round of scores showed UM tied for fourth place with Stetson University.

Daily Business Review, FIU Is No. 1 on Bar Exam Passage

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I've talked about this program several times on the Legal Skills Prof Blog. It works because it is based on general educational research. Other law schools could obtain these results if they followed the same methods.

Posted by: Scott Fruehwald | Apr 25, 2018 8:09:42 AM

Actual data if anyone is interested in evaluating these results (LSAT and attrition data gathered from 509 Reports):

Florida Bar Examination Results for July 2017

87.8% Florida International
84.2% University of Miami
83.9% Florida State University
77.0% University of Florida
76.8% Stetson University

LSATs for students entering in 2014 (75th, 50th, 25th)

158, 156, 151 Florida International
160, 157, 155 University of Miami
161, 159, 156 Florida State University
161, 158, 155 University of Florida
157, 155, 152 Stetson University

First Year Non-Transfer Attrition at the end of the 2014-2015 AY by percentage (FT students who would take the July 2017 Bar Exam)

12.3% Florida International (7.5% Academic, 4.8% Other)
6.0% University of Miami (1.6% Academic, 4.4% Other)
3.2% Florida State University (1.6% Academic, 1.6% Academic)
0.7-1.4% University of Florida (0.7-1.4% Other)
4.5% Stetson University (0.8% Academic, 3.7% Other)

My choice of data probably says enough about what I think. So I’ll leave it at that.

(This data includes a few shortcuts. Data for part-time students (FIU & Stetson) is not included, though it doesn’t appear markedly different. Florida’s attrition is included as a range because their reporting looks slightly different – consistently more in the second year than first year – and I didn’t really know if I could tease out the reason why. Given the relatively low rates even if I included both years (1.4%), it wasn’t worth the time. I don’t think those minor shortcuts take away from the big picture – to the extent there’s anything to see...)

Posted by: anonprof | Apr 25, 2018 9:20:49 PM