Paul L. Caron

Thursday, October 18, 2018

July 2018 Massachusetts Bar Exam Results Are The Worst This Century

Boston Business Journal, Law School Grads Reach a New Low on Mass. Bar Exam:

Nearly one in three aspiring lawyers who took the Massachusetts bar examination this summer failed the test, the highest failure rate in the Bay State this century.

Only 69.2 percent of test-takers passed the bar exam in July, according to statistics posted by the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners on Monday. The previous low for the July exam this century — 70.9 percent — occurred in 2016.

First-Time Bar Pass Rank (Rate)



US News Rank

MA (Overall)

1 (98.6%)


1 (3)

2 (93.7%)

Boston University

2 (22)

3 (92.6%)


Tier 2

4 (87.8%)


4 (74)

5 (86.8%)

Boston College

3 (27)


Statewide Average


6 (64.5%)


5 (144)

7 (63.7%)

New England

Tier 2

8 (58.7%)

W. New England

Tier 2

9 (35.9%)

Mass (Andover)

Tier 2

The Board of Bar Examiners has only provided the Business Journal with passage rates dating back to the year 2000.

Legal Education | Permalink


Somehow I feel left out...

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Oct 18, 2018 8:43:05 AM

This isn't always comparable; MA has always been too easy and lowering it makes sense.

In any event, your chart above leaves off the schools which are truly responsible for the low state passage rate, in particular the Mass. School of Law. That school had 108 people sit for the exam and a whopping 21.3% pass rate. Holy smokes.

Bad news for Suffolk, as well: the expansion served it poorly, what with 288 takers and a 51.3% rate.

Anyway, you should link to the full chart, here:

Posted by: Erik H. | Oct 18, 2018 10:55:16 AM

Incomplete statistics. Northeastern actually performed better than average, but is not mentioned at all?

Posted by: John Saunders | Oct 18, 2018 11:07:33 AM

When I took the Virginia Bar Exam in 1960, only about 50% passed. Most were from law schools in DC. (I was a Georgetown grad. Passed). The historic law firms complained that the UVa grads were not passing enough bodies to replenish the supply. Next year, over 80% (as I recall) passed the bar.

Posted by: Sylvester Brock | Oct 18, 2018 11:18:02 AM

Reminder that bar passage rates do not directly correspond to license-required employment. I assure you that the grads of BC Law are doing better than the grads of UMASS Law and NUSL.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Oct 19, 2018 9:23:57 AM

As Erik H. brought it up, it bears mentioning that Mass School of Law is (rather proudly) unaccredited.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Oct 20, 2018 4:49:05 PM

Any surprise in a market dominated by private schools? And UMass's relative rise as the only public school in the market? Privates gotta keep that revenue rollin' in. Hey, I thought this market was quality controlled by the ABA....

Posted by: RJ Peltz-Steele | Oct 24, 2018 12:48:46 PM

Unemployed Northeastern says:

"I assure you that the grads of BC Law are doing better than the grads of UMASS Law and NUSL."

Yeah, everyone who failed the bar out of BC is surely doing much better than the few who failed it out of UMass. Maybe if the paper they print the degree on is worth more at BC than it is at UMass. Otherwise, pffff.

Posted by: Dumb Yokel | Oct 24, 2018 1:11:13 PM

Well, that was devastating. Hey, let's look at some... data!

BC Law Class of 2017:
- 189 of 238 grads in FT/LT/license-required jobs (79%)
- 19 of 238 still unemployed (7%)
- Median starting salary (84% reporting rate): $95k. 75th percentile: $180k

UMASS Law Class of 2017:
27 of 49 in FT/LT/license-required jobs (55%)
5 unemployed (10%)
Median starting salary (with a mere 52% reporting rate): $50k. 75th percentile: $70k

Gosh, it's so hard to limn which set of outcomes is better!! Dumb yokel indeed.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Oct 24, 2018 10:27:06 PM