Paul L. Caron
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Monday, September 14, 2020

Bahadur: Attrition And Bar Performance

TaxProf Blog op-ed:  Attrition and Bar Performance, by Rory Bahadur (Washburn):

Recently I was made aware of an incredibly well researched article by Jeffrey Kinsler [The Best Law Schools for Passing the Bar Exam].  The article predicted bar outcomes based on incoming credentials and listed the 15 schools that overperformed their incoming credentials the most and the fifteen schools that underperformed the most on the bar based on incoming credentials. 

The article identified the 15 top overperforming schools as

Rank

The Top 15 Law Schools for Bar Passage

1

Belmont

2

Florida International

3

Liberty

4

Campbell

5

Texas A&M

6

Duquesne

7

LSU

8

Georgia State

9

Texas Tech

10

New Hampshire

11

Regent

12

South Carolina

13

Seton Hall

14

Cleveland State

15

Oklahoma

And it identified the 15 most underperforming schools as

Rank

The Bottom 15 Law Schools for Bar Passage

173

Touro

174

Minnesota

175

Northwestern

176

John Marshall (Atlanta)

177

New York Law School

178

UC-Hastings

179

Emory

180

Thomas Cooley

181

SUNY-Buffalo

182

American

183

Hofstra

184

Southwestern

185

Golden Gate

186

District of Columbia

187

San Francisco

The article suggests reasons for why these schools fall where they do but I thought it would be interesting based on my current research in this area to compare 1L attrition rates for these schools.  I very quickly used two on-line sources for the comparison.  I used this site to ascertain 1L attrition rates for law schools and this site to ascertain the seven-year average national 1L attrition rates for schools in different LSAT ranges.  The findings are laid out in the following tables that are modified from the article by Kinsler.

For the top 15 schools the data looks like this and it indicates the average 1L attrition rate for these schools is almost twice as high as the national average rate of 1L attrition for schools with similar LSAT entering credentials.

Rank

The Top 15 Law Schools for Bar Passage

1L Attrition Rate (%)

Median LSAT Band

7 Year Average 1L Attrition for Schools in Same LSAT Band(%)

1

Belmont

9.82

155-159

4.8

2

Florida Int'l

16.11

155-159

4.8

3

Liberty

20.55

150-154

9.0

4

Campbell

11.8

150-154

9.0

5

Texas A&M

9.42

155-159

4.8

6

Duquesne

10.81

155-159

4.8

7

LSU

5.59

155-159

4.8

8

Georgia State

11.05

155-159

4.8

9

Texas Tech

12.95

155-159

4.8

10

New Hampshire

8.11

155-159

4.8

11

Regent

12.9

150-154

9.0

12

South Carolina

4.65

155-159

4.8

13

Seton Hall

8.12

155-159

4.8

14

Cleveland State

8.33

150-154

9.0

15

Oklahoma

2.52

155-159

4.8

Average 1L Attrition % Compared To National Average

10.28

 

5.9

For the bottom 15 schools for bar passage the data is as follows:


Rank

The Bottom 15 Law Schools for Bar Passage

1L Attrition Rate (%)

Median LSAT Band

7 Year Average 1L Attrition for Schools in Same LSAT Band (%)

173

Touro

14.69

<150

14.8

174

Minnesota

1.53

160 +

2.0

175

Northwestern

0

160 +

2.0

176

John Marshall (Atlanta)

19.44

< 150

14.8

177

New York Law School

13.26

150-154

9.0

178

UC-Hastings

3.99

155-159

4.8

179

Emory

2.1

160 +

2.0

180

Thomas Cooley

13.97

<150

14.8

181

SUNY-Buffalo

2.78

150-154

9.0

182

American

.72

155-159

4.8

183

Hofstra

6.8

150-154

9.0

184

Southwestern

17.27

150-154

9.0

185

Golden Gate

15.05

150-154

9.0

186

District of Columbia

11.83

<150

14.8

187

San Francisco

23.78

150-154

9.0

Average 1L Attrition % Compared to National Average

9.81

 

8.59

For the lower performing schools identified by Kinsler the 1L average attrition rate was very similar to the national 1L average attrition rate.  In fact, in 9 out of the 15 schools the 1L attrition rate was lower than the national average for schools in similar LSAT bands.  Those schools are identified in yellow in the table above.

Just today, a colleague at another school agreed to help with a more detailed and accurate empirical study on these data and a large well-funded entity with a trove of statisticians today agreed to lend us a helping hand.

The aim will be to scour the actual ABA 509 forms rather than on-line sources and compare not just attrition rates to bar passage performance but to specifically compare academic attrition rates at these law schools to their relative over or under performance on bar passage performance.

As soon as the research is complete, we will share the data.

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2020/09/bahadur-attrition-and-bar-performance.html

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Comments

applies to other professional schools and grad school in science, too. High admission standards and a clear, early cut for the obvious won't-make-it crowd.

Posted by: doc | Sep 14, 2020 6:20:32 AM

Let's be really clear that the author is not saying that bar prep programs are ineffective. All he's reiterating is the fairly unremarkable reality that if a law school fails out more students, it is failing out the students most likely to fail the bar because of the established correlation between law school GPA and bar passage. So I'd like to know if anyone is seriously suggesting that high attrition does not improve bar passage and should be ignored when looking at a school's performance on the bar exam.

Posted by: BarObserver25 | Sep 14, 2020 12:49:41 PM