Paul L. Caron

Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Relationship Between Bar Passage Rates And Attorney Discipline

Following up on my previous posts:

William Patton (USC Law & UCLA Medicine), A Rebuttal to Kinsler's and to Anderson and Muller's Studies on the Purported Relationship between Bar Passage Rates and Attorney Discipline, 93 St. John's L. Rev. 43 (2019):

I applaud Professors Kinsler, Anderson, and Muller for investigating whether the bar examination is relevant to patterns of attorney discipline. However, their research failed to prove that: (1) students from low rated law schools engage in significantly more unethical behavior; (2) there is a causal relationship or correlation between students who attend low ranked schools, their bar exam scores, and their disciplinary patterns; or (3) students from low ranked schools who scored lower on the bar exam are either not minimally competent to practice law or are a significantly greater danger to the public than students who attended elite law schools.

They also failed to prove that lowering an extremely high MBE cut score to one near the national MBE mean will have any significant effect on attorney misconduct. Finally, they failed to demonstrate any connection between the number of times attorneys retake the bar exam, attorney disciplinary rates, and danger to the public.

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Smarter kids go to better schools
Smarter kids score better on tests
Smarter kids are less likely to be ensnared by ethics lapses

It is only common sense that dumber kids tend to go to worse schools and are more likely to get in trouble with ethics.

But let’s all pretend we don’t have common sense. It will be lots of fun.

Posted by: Anon | Sep 11, 2020 12:42:03 AM

"Smarter kids go to better schools...It is only common sense that dumber kids tend to go to worse schools."

OK, a kid gets into Suffolk and Harvard. Suffolk offers a no-contingency full ride, Harvard will cost $350,000 including interest by the time the kid passes the bar.

Which is the smart choice?

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Sep 11, 2020 8:50:30 AM

Don't the majority of ethics complaints involve financial malfeasance in the individual client-facing practice areas? (i.e. trust and estates, criminal, personal injury, real estate). Grads from the "elite" schools with high bar exam scores are far less likely to enter these practice areas. The young lawyer pushing paper at Jones Day never has the opportunity to commingle client funds. The grads of "lesser" schools enter the practice areas that are more likely to generate complaints. the combination of greed and opportunity has nothing to do with "intelligence" and the ability to ace some stupid test.

Posted by: Tyler | Sep 11, 2020 9:13:43 AM

Anon, just to clarify, smarter kids are not more likely to be ethical, just less likely to be caught.

Posted by: PaulB | Sep 11, 2020 4:27:14 PM