TaxProf Blog

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

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Anderson: Law School GPA Is A Much Better Predictor Of Bar Passage Than LSAT Or UGPA

Following up on my previous post, Deans, Law Profs Weigh In On The California Bar Exam:  Robert Anderson (Pepperdine), Analysis of the California Bar Examination Report, Part 2:

Today's installment presents one of the most interesting charts in the [California State Bar] report, one that everyone connected with legal education should understand. Figure 2.3, pictured below, shows the relationship between LSAT, undergraduate GPA (UGPA), first year law school GPA (FYGPA), cumulative law school GPA (LSGPA), and bar exam scores. The data is derived from a large number of California law graduates for 2013, 2016, and 2017. ...


The first point to note is one that is fairly well known among those who study bar performance, which is that law school GPA (whether first year or cumulative) is much more predictive of bar performance than incoming predictors like UGPA or LSAT. For example, in 2013 the correlation of FYGPA to bar score was .582 and the correlation of LSGPA to bar score was .640, compared to LSAT's .424 and UGPA's .212.

I will make two related points here. The first is that if schools want to predict bar performance, incoming predictors like LSAT and UGPA are very weak compared to law school grades. The second, more speculative, point is that UGPA is likely diluted by the very high levels of noise from different types of classes.

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1) So obviously the solution is to just give everyone in California law schools a 3.7 as their baseline grade (just like Harvard, Yale, Stanford, etc. do for their undergrads these days). /sarc

2) I just want to point out that a study a few years back found a .71 correlation between a law school's USNWR rank and the percentage of its graduates who actually found FT/LT/license-required jobs after graduation and it was immediately assaulted by law school defenders who, I expect, will embrace the lower correlations of this study as *proof* that law school GPA is determinative of bar passage so as to deflect attention from crashing enrollment standards over the last several years.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jan 22, 2019 11:15:31 PM

1. In other news, sun sets in west. 2. Water is wet. 3. LSGPA and FYGPA cannot be used for admissions, which is the primary purpose for which LSAT and UGPA are used. So what's his point?

Posted by: Diane Klein | Jan 22, 2019 11:52:01 PM