Paul L. Caron

Friday, March 6, 2020

What Comes Next For The 11 Law Schools With Two-Year Pass Rates Below 75%?

ABA Journal, What Comes Next For ABA-Accredited Law Schools With Two-Year Pass Rates Below 75%?:

ABA Section On Legal Education (2016)The 2019 revision to Standard 316 cut out various exceptions and got straight to the point: At least 75% of an ABA-accredited law school’s graduates who took a bar exam must pass one within two years of graduation. This year, compliance is based on 2017 graduates.

But the new standard may not be as rigid as once thought. There’s the potential for schools to get a time extension, according to a June 2019 managing director’s guidance memo. For instance, factors that could demonstrate good cause for a time extension include a trend of improvement for subsequent test-takers, showing that the school has a meaningful academic support program and temporary circumstances the school can’t control, such as a natural disaster. ...

Based on ABA data, it appears that 11 law schools have class of 2017 pass rates below 75 percent. Those schools are:

  • Charleston School of Law (72.12%)
  • Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico School of Law (70.87%)
  • Florida A&M University College of Law (70.83%)
  • Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (67.32%)
  • Florida Coastal School of Law (67.29%)
  • University of South Dakota School of Law (67.21%)
  • Western Michigan University Cooley Law School (66.01%)
  • Inter American University of Puerto Rico, Faculty of Law (64.49%)
  • Mississippi College School of Law (64.15%)
  • University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law (64.06%)
  • Faulkner University’s Thomas Goode Jones School of Law (62.50%)

If a law school is ultimately found to be out of compliance with Standard 316, public notice would be posted, and the school has two years to come into compliance, the June 2019 memo states. If the school is again noncompliant with Standard 316 the following year, it will be required to appear at an administrative hearing, and the council will determine whether it should withdraw the school’s accreditation or grant a time extension based on good cause, according to the memo.

“I would expect that any school found out of compliance with Standard 316 for not meeting its requirements for 2017 graduates would be given two years to demonstrate that it has come back into compliance,” Currier told the ABA Journal in an email.

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To condition licensing and federal hiring on going to a school where 3 out of 4 of one's classmates pass the exam seems oddly elitist and paternalistic compared to college (from which the ABA also requires one to burn a degree in nothing in particular before admission). As well as at odds with democratic access to the law-making and/or law-preserving forum of our courts.

This kind of standard might be more appropriate for lenders and guarantors.

And giving citizens the right to take the exam up front if they want - for which a few thousand dollars' bar review class or even free self-study can do nicely - would both reduce financial risk and encourage a harder look at just what structured, expensive training adds essential value.

Posted by: Anand Desai | Mar 6, 2020 9:36:48 PM